Up 1,011 this week

Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  28 December 1940 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.3/10 from 2,063 users  
Reviews: 67 user | 16 critic

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.



(original screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive


IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 44 titles
created 23 Oct 2011
a list of 31 titles
created 13 Jul 2012
a list of 1175 titles
created 15 Nov 2012
list image
a list of 25 titles
created 10 Aug 2013
a list of 22 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Search for "Santa Fe Trail" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Santa Fe Trail (1940)

Santa Fe Trail (1940) on IMDb 6.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Santa Fe Trail.

User Polls



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Highly fictionalized account (see 'goofs' for examples) of the life of George Armstrong Custer from his arrival at West Point in 1857 to his death at the battle of the Little Big Horn in ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Arthur Kennedy
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When the crew of a downed British bomber escape from their Nazi captors with Top Secret intelligence, they make a desperate journey to get out of Germany alive.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Coleman
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A major countermands orders and attacks to revenge a previous massacre of men, women and children.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles
Dive Bomber (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A military surgeon teams with a ranking navy flyer to develop a high-altitude suit which will protect pilots from blacking out when they go into a steep dive.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy
Captain Blood (1935)
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An enslaved doctor and his comrades in chains escape and become pirates of the Caribbean.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill
Silver River (1948)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Unjustly booted out of the cavalry, Mike McComb strikes out for Nevada, and deciding never to be used again, ruthlessly works his way up to becoming one of the most powerful silver magnates... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Thomas Mitchell
Gentleman Jim (1942)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

As bareknuckled boxing enters the modern era, brash extrovert Jim Corbett uses new rules and dazzlingly innovative footwork to rise to the top of the top of the boxing world.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, Jack Carson
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After two years under German rule, a small Norwegian fishing village rises up and revolts against the occupying Nazis.

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan, Walter Huston
Montana (1950)
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An Australian sheepman comes to Montana looking for grazing space, is opposed by local ranchers and a wealthy cattle-woman.

Directors: Ray Enright, Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith, S.Z. Sakall
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Raised in seclusion to be the epitome of mental, physical and moral perfection, Gerald Beresford Wicks is resigned to following his grandmother's wishes until a chance encounter with Mona Carter leads him into the outside world.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Joan Blondell, Hugh Herbert


Cast overview, first billed only:
'Kit Carson' Holliday (as Olivia De Havilland)
William Lundigan ...
Bob Holliday
Gene Reynolds ...
Henry O'Neill ...
Cyrus Holliday
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ...
Windy Brody
Alan Baxter ...
Moroni Olsen ...
David Bruce ...
Phil Sheridan
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Barber Doyle


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Where the railroad and civilization ended, the Sante Fe Trail began! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 December 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Camino de Santa Fe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Aptly enough, the movie made its world premiere in Santa Fe, New Mexico. See more »


The final battle takes place in a building called "The Arsenal". The Federal Armory at Harpers Ferry was actually a complex of manufacturing, storage, and office buildings. During the fighting, John Brown's force finally took refuge in the Fire House, one of the smallest of the buildings on the Armory grounds. The Fire House was built of brick but had three large wooden doors through which the firefighting equipment could move. See more »


Cowboy: Kansas is all right for men and dogs, but it's pretty hard on women and horses.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Errol Flynn (1961) See more »


Along the Santa Fe Trail
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Will Grosz
Played when Jeb and George say goodbye to Kit and when Jeb first kisses her
Waltz version played at the party in Washington
Played at the wedding and during the end credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Slavery's Long Shadow
26 May 2009 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

Errol Flynn is lost and Olivia de Havilland wasted in one of their last films together, an oddball Westerner that straddles the Mason-Dixon line presenting events leading up to the American Civil War.

Not a good film, "Santa Fe Trail" is nevertheless fascinating now because of the political and social undercurrents running through it. Sensitive to Southern moviegoers still smarting 75 years after Appomattox, the filmmakers present a convoluted tale where all of the terribleness of the War Between the States can be laid on the doorstep of that terrible scourge: Abolitionism.

Anti-slavery terrorist John Brown is on the loose, and it's up to Flynn to stop him, as future Confederate legend J.E.B. Stuart, still a U.S. Army officer as the war looms on the horizon. Stuart is presented as a champion not of slavery but of the status quo it is his duty to protect. Still, it's hard to find merit in his stance. "The South will settle it," Stuart says about slavery, "but in its own time and in its own way." No use rushing into righting an 80-year wrong, right?

Director Michael Curtiz and scripter Robert Buckner fall short in terms of story, too. Is this a Western? Or is it a love story? Again, cinematic economics are pretty transparent given how awkwardly Olivia is shoehorned into the film, standing on the sidelines and wringing her hands. She's beautiful and charming, but her scenes with Flynn are overlong compendiums of romantic cliché, made worse by a melodramatic and hyperactive Max Steiner score.

Playing the token liberal here is Ronald Reagan as George Armstrong Custer. Read that last sentence back if you want to know why some people really hate this film. "There's a purpose behind that madness," Custer says of Brown, "one that cannot easily be dismissed." But Custer doesn't protest too long, and the implication is clear that whatever Brown is fighting for doesn't outweigh his endangering the Union, for Custer or Stuart.

Luckily for the filmmakers, they had Raymond Massey on hand to play Brown, eloquent in word but constantly threatening to go off the deep end. Massey was a florid overactor, but he had in Brown the right part and makes the most of it. Even better is Van Heflin, as a nasty bravo named Rader whom Stuart tangles with at West Point and again later on when Rader inserts himself as one of Brown's deputies. Rader's a great foil, allowed to say some worthy things about the anti-slavery cause, but more compelling in how his anger-choked personality comes to clash with that of the self-righteous Brown. Heflin grabs every scene he's in with those beady eyes and high forehead, and it's probably why he rose to movie prominence soon after.

Far less successful is the film's effort to develop a romantic rivalry between Stuart and Custer. We have a pretty good idea de Havilland won't wind up with the Gipper. Alan Hale and Guinn Williams bicker like old maids for the sake of bad comedy, playing a pair of battle-hungry cowhands: "Calling me a rumpot's what hurt me...I haven't had a drink since noon!"

Even Curtiz the celebrated action director falters here. Halfway through the film there's a battle where Brown and his men hold up Stuart's troops, then ride off with a cache of weapons, leaving Stuart's force inexplicably still armed. Vastly outnumbered, Stuart chases them anyway. Brown obliges him by not turning around to fight, leaving the cache behind.

"Hey, wait a minute, they outnumber us three-to-one," protests Custer. With an attitude like that, he'll never make the history books.

However factually and dramatically flawed, "Santa Fe Trail" is one for the history books, in a way that shows how imperfectly the United States was coming to terms with its slave-holding past three generations on. It's not a good film even without its moral dubiousness, but that same dubiousness makes it historically worthy, as a reflection of just how hard it was for a nation to face a searing legacy of accepting the treatment of human beings as cattle.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Best DVD of this movie? mark_daniel
What happened? billellis
Hollywood Economics Trumps Truth babyfreen
John Brown hhh-106
who played Abraham Lincoln? in_lpn
This film reminds me of rpniew
Discuss Santa Fe Trail (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: