John Wayne first appeared as a leading man in 1930's "The Big Trail," directed by Raoul Walsh. He worked as a film extra while attending college in "Brown of Harvard" (1926) and "Drop Kick" (1927). He also worked as an extra on John Ford's "Mother Machree" (1928) after college.
Wayne plays Breck Coleman in "The Big Trail." The character guides a wagon train of pioneers through various calamities while trying to locate the murderer of a trapper and falling in love with a fellow traveller. The film was not successful at the box office, but Walsh contributed to the creation of Wayne's screen name.