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,
Geoffrey Thorpe is an adventurous and dashing pirate, who feels that he should pirate the Spanish ships for the good of England. In one such battle, he overtakes a Spanish ship and when he ... 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 <email@example.com>
The film plays fast and loose with historical fact, most noticeably in the other famous officers who are supposed to have graduated West Point with J.E.B. Stuart in 1854: James Longstreet (1842), George Pickett (1846), Philip Sheridan (1853), John Hood (1853), and George Custer (1861). See more »
Leavenworth, Kansas: Where the railroad and civilization ended, the Santa Fe Trail began. The old Spanish road from Mexico, now lusty with new life and a new motto - "God gets off at Leavenworth and Cyrus Holliday drives you from there to the Devil."
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Historical accuracy aside, an exciting and essentially satisfying film
Santa Fe Trail may not be great filmmaking, but it succeeds in what it sets out to accomplish and is generally satisfying viewing. Errol Flynn stars as J.E.B. Stuart, fresh out of West Point and now stationed at Fort Leavenworth in the Kansas territory, the starting point of the westward Santa Fe Trail. This was particularly hazardous country at the time, because abolitionist John Brown (Raymond Massey) was conducting violent raids along the trail. It quickly becomes the duty of Stuart and his pal Custer (Ronald Reagan) to capture Brown dead or alive, and put and end to his attacks.
There are many exciting sequences in the film, leading up to the final confrontation at Harper's Ferry. There's also a predictable romantic triangle between Flynn, Reagan and Olivia de Havilland. (Guess which one she picks!) The movie deserves credit for taking an objective viewpoint toward Brown, acknowledging that his motives were good even if his methods were not.
As Stuart, Flynn proves to be equally adroit in westerns as in swashbucklers. Reagan and de Havilland fill their less demanding roles with ease, and Alan Hale and Guinn `Big Boy' Williams provide much-needed comic relief. Massey somewhat overplays his hand as Brown, however. He comes off as too sanctimonious, more a cliché villain than a three-dimensional human being.
Apparently, the film is a travesty in terms of historical accuracy. Who cares? Movies are an entertainment medium. Anyone seeking facts alone had better confine their search to encyclopedias. Otherwise, just sit back and be amused.
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