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Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 28 December 1940 (USA)
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2:13 | Trailer
In 1854, Jeb Stuart, George Custer and other graduates from West Point are posted to Kansas to help pacify the territory before railroad construction to Santa Fe can resume.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writer:

Robert Buckner (original screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Jeb Stuart
Olivia de Havilland ... 'Kit Carson' Holliday (as Olivia De Havilland)
Raymond Massey ... John Brown
Ronald Reagan ... George Armstrong Custer
Alan Hale ... Tex Bell
William Lundigan ... Bob Holliday
Van Heflin ... Rader
Gene Reynolds ... Jason Brown
Henry O'Neill ... Cyrus Holliday
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Windy Brody
Alan Baxter ... Oliver Brown
John Litel ... Martin
Moroni Olsen ... Robert E. Lee
David Bruce ... Phil Sheridan
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Barber Doyle
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Storyline

The story of Jeb Stuart, his romance with Kit Carson Holliday, friendship with George Custer and battles against John Brown in the days leading up to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They carved a path through the wilderness... then paved it with bullets and lives! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 December 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Diary of the Santa Fe See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)| Mono (Vitasound)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Olivia de Havilland recalled that former flame Errol Flynn behaved badly towards her onset (she was dating James Stewart and believed Flynn was jealous). See more »

Goofs

When Jeb Stuart escapes the hanging, he fires eight shots from the stolen six-shooter. See more »

Quotes

Cyrus K. Holliday: Kit, once when you were about this high, Tex and Windy brought home a wolf cub with a broken back. You nursed it for weeks, but it finally died with his head in your lap. You cried for days. But it was just a wolf cub. And it probably would have grown up to be a killer like its father.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening card: "1854, THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY, WEST POINT When the gray cradle of the American Army was only a small garrison with few cadets, but under a brilliant Commandant, named Robert E. Lee it was already building for the defense of a newly-won nation in a new world." See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in In the Shadow of Hollywood (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Benny Havens, Oh!
(uncredited)
Words by Lucius O'Brien, John T. Metcalfe, Ripley A. Arnold, and others
Music Traditional ("The Wearing of the Green")
Sung by the soldiers at the farewell party at Fort Leavenworth
See more »

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User Reviews

A Very Unusual Mixture of Bad and Good History
26 May 2003 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

"Santa Fe Trail", a 1940 film that brought a number of rising stars together, mixes gross distortion of history with an unusual, compelling and honest confrontation with the age of slavery.

Hollywood's uses (and, more often, abuses) of history fascinate me. Some films try to stick close to accounts generally accepted while others openly employ characters from real life as a launch point for stories that have little to do with actual events (hey, if Shakespeare could do it...). Many films blend fiction with fact and, usually, they serve neither well.

Director Michael Curtiz's "Santa Fe Trail" is part western, part military history, part comedic romance. Olivia de Havilland, fresh from her "Gone With the Wind" adventure, plays a frontier girl with spunk - and an ability to keep her clothes clean almost always, no matter what. She is pursued by two young army lieutenants, the soon to be legendary Confederate cavalry office, J.E.B. Stuart (Errol Flynn), and the eventually to be killed with his entire command George A. Custer (Ronald Reagan sans Bonzo). The rival suitors are typically 1940s romantics - no unfair or nasty stuff here. So sweet is the path to nuptial bliss.

The story takes place before the Civil War when the Army tried to maintain peace between pro- and anti-slavery factions in Bloody Kansas. The army officers who actually are part of history are portrayed here as being all members of the West Point Class of 1854-that would make Custer about seven years younger and earlier in graduating than was the case). No big deal.

What makes this film a remarkable document is its unflinching, for the Hollywood of the 1940s, portrayal of the evil of slavery, the pain of blacks ensnared in its web and the thundering role of John Brown, played by Raymond Massey in a powerful, gripping performance.

John Brown, the abolitionist who in life and in the film murdered slavery supporters and seized the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia was a zealot, not a madman (he refused an opportunity to plead insanity at the trial which ended in his death sentence). Massey, one of the greatest actors of all time, captures Brown's total devotion to ending slavery - he projects passion, not psychosis. It seems to me that Massey had a picture of John Brown that he was determined to bring to life, the inane or frivolous parts of the film being totally irrelevant to his mission.

Hollywood before World War II generally treated blacks as minor props (waiters, Pullman car attendants, cooks and maids). Here a black family is traumatized by truly sinister racists. Brown's condemnations of slavery are taken from his speeches and writings. The film's producer and director and script writers took a major detour from the concerted Tinseltown effort to not produce any story that might cut into box office take in the South (and elsewhere-the North was no hotbed of campaigns for racial equality).

Worth seeing because of its unique take on slavery, for the time, and Raymond Massey's towering performance.

8/10.


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