Highly fictionalized account (see the IMDB '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 ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
A Confederate troop, led by Captain Lafe Barstow, is prowling the far ranges of California and Nevada in a last desperate attempt to build up an army in the West for the faltering ... See full summary »
Robert will do anything to get the big account that has eluded him. His public relations business makes public angels of rich scoundrels. Jean needs someone to save the paper and she wants ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
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.
Humphrey van Weyden, a writer, and fugitives Ruth Webster and George Leach have been given refuge aboard the sealer "Ghost," captained by the cruel Wolf Larsen. The crew mutinies against ... See full summary »
Edward G. Robinson,
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 »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The railroad being built is called the "Santa Fe". The original company was the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company chartered in 1859. Although one of the original destinations of the railroad, "Santa Fe" was not added to the name of the company until 1863, well after the setting of the movie. Further, contrary to what is shown, initial track laying did not begin until 1868. See more »
James Ewell Brown 'Jeb' Stuart:
What do you do on Saturday night for fun here?
Kit Carson Holliday:
Well, as I remember, half of Leavenworth takes a bath and the other half gets drunk. And since there are only two bathtubs in town, things get kind of exciting around midnight.
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"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.
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