Santa Fe Trail (1940)

    This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

    Why not take a minute to register for your own free account now? Registration is completely free and will enable the use of all site features including the ability to join in or create your own discussions.

    There is 1 reply in this Thread. The last Post () by ethanedwards.

    • Santa Fe Trail (1940)




      Plot 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

      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
      Charles D. Brown ... Maj. Sumner
      Joe Sawyer ... Kitzmiller
      Frank Wilcox ... James Longstreet
      Ward Bond ... Townley
      Russell Simpson ... Shubel Morgan
      Charles Middleton ... Gentry (as Charles Middletown)
      Erville Alderson ... Jefferson Davis
      Spencer Charters ... Conductor
      Susan Peters ... Charlotte (as Suzanne Carnahan)
      William Marshall ... George Pickett
      George Haywood ... John Hood
      and many more...

      Michael Curtiz

      Writing Credits
      Robert Buckner ... (original screenplay)

      Robert Fellows ... associate producer
      Hal B. Wallis ... executive producer

      Max Steiner

      Sol Polito ... director of photography

      The seventh of nine movies made together by Warner Brothers'
      romantic couple Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn.

      Raymond Massey starred as John Brown again in Seven Angry Men (1955),
      the main story of which is also the trial and hanging of the abolitionist.

      Aptly enough, the movie made its world premiere in Santa Fe, NM.

      Shown at some engagements with Warner Bros.' new Vitasound audio process.
      Often incorrectly called a stereophonic process,
      Vitasound actually combined a standard, variable-width monophonic soundtrack
      with a second variable-width control track, located between the soundtrack and the sprocket holes,
      that increased loudness for certain scenes by switching on additional amplifiers and speakers.
      "Santa Fe Trail" was one of only two films shown in the Vitasound process (the other was Four Wives (1939)

      The song "Benny Havens, Oh!" (sung by the soldiers at the farewell party at Fort Leavenworth)
      is a song from West Point.
      Benny Havens ran a public house near by West Point Military Academy.
      The writing of the song in his establishment by a Lt. O'Brien
      is commemorated in a mural in the Benny Havens Room of the West Point Army Mess.

      Errol Flynn plays Jeb Stuart, with Ronald Reagan playing George Armstrong Custer.
      A year later Flynn would play Custer in They Died with Their Boots On (1941).

      The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright
      resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone
      could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film.
      Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely
      (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality,
      having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.

      Ronald Reagan got the part of George Custer on the strength
      of his success playing George Gipp in Knute Rockne All American (1940).

      Crazy Credits
      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."

      Throughout this pre-Civil War film, characters shoot at one another with 1873 model Colt pistols.

      Toward the end of the film, in the establishing shot of John Brown's hanging sequence,
      three men in formal dress are shown on the left side of the road.
      Subsequently they appear on the right, and then there is one more.

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

      Factual errors
      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).

      J.E.B. Stuart's wife was named Flora Cooke, not Kit Carson Holliday.

      Most of the Harpers Ferry engagement is inaccurate.
      Most notably, while the government forces were led by Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee,
      the troops were marines, not army.

      John Brown did not wear a beard while in Kansas, but rather years later.

      The artillery pieces at the Harper's Ferry battle are shown being pulled by teams of four horses.
      Prior to the Civil War all field artillery pieces,
      except the M1841 12-pound Gun used teams of six horses
      (the 12-pound gun required eight horses).
      A shortage of horses during the War caused field artillery horse teams to be reduced to four horses,
      a changed which continued after the War.

      Stuart's first assignment after graduating from West Point was the U.S. Mounted Rifles in Texas,
      followed by the 1st Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry, not the 2nd Cavalry as depicted in the film.

      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.

      At the Harper's Ferry battle the troops are shown carrying the Model 1873 (Trapdoor) Carbine,
      a breech loading weapon which is the standard Hollywood weapon for all U.S. cavalry in the 19th century.
      The correct weapon would have been the M1854 Rifled Carbine, a muzzle loading weapon.
      It may also be noted that cavalry was not present at the take over
      of the Harper's Ferry Arsenal by John Brown.

      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.

      Just after John Brown is hanged, an Army officer next to the gallows says
      "So perish all such enemies of the Union."
      What the officer, Colonel J.T.L.Preston of the Virginia Military Institute said was
      "So perish all such enemies of Virginia, all such enemies of the Union,
      all such foes of the human race."

      Factual errors
      In real life, John Brown said nothing from the gallows.
      He did, however, hand one of his guards a note on his way to his execution.
      It read: "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land
      will never be purged away but with blood."

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Lasky Mesa, West Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
      Sonora, California, USA
      Warner Ranch, Calabasas, California, USA
      Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA (location filming)

      Watch the Movie

      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Santa Fe Trail is a 1940 American western film directed by
      Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland,
      Raymond Massey and Ronald Reagan.

      Written by Robert Buckner, the film is about the abolitionist John Brown
      and his fanatical attacks on slavery as a prelude to the American Civil War.
      Subthemes include J.E.B. Stuart and George Armstrong Custer as they duel
      for the hand of Kit Carson Holliday.

      The film was one of the top-grossing films of the year,
      and the seventh Flynn–de Havilland collaboration.
      The film also has almost nothing to do with its namesake, the famed Santa Fe Trail,
      except that the trail started in Missouri and the railroad could be built
      only after the Army drove Brown out of Kansas.

      The outdoor scenes were filmed at the Lasky Movie Ranch
      in the Lasky Mesa area of the Simi Hills in the western San Fernando Valley.

      One can visit the film location site, now in the very large
      Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (a.k.a. Ahmanson Ranch),
      with various trails to the Lasky Mesa locale.

      At one stage Randolph Scott was mentioned for the lead.
      However it soon became a vehicle for Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

      John Wayne was mentioned as a possibility for Flynn's costar.

      Dennis Morgan was originally announced for the role of George Custer.
      Van Heflin was signed to play the villain following his success on Broadway
      in The Philadelphia Story; it was his first movie since 1937.
      Morgan was borrowed to appear in Kitty Foyle and was replaced
      shortly before filming began by Ronald Reagan.

      Filming started July 1940 although the shoot starting date was pushed back due
      to a re-emergence of Flynn's malaria.

      The film is frequently confused with the Raoul Walsh movie They Died with Their Boots On,
      released the following year, in which Flynn replaces Reagan in the role of Custer
      and also features de Havilland as Flynn's leading lady.

      The film was premiered in Santa Fe over a three-day festival, featuring a large number of celebrities.
      There were 250 guests and two special trains, with a total cost of $50,000
      - shared between Warners and Santa Fe Railroad.

      Box office
      The film made a profit of $1.48 million.

      Look out for Duke's, 'Pals' Ward Bond, Russell Simpson

      User Review

      In The Tradition of Gone With the Wind
      8 May 2007 | by bkoganbing (Buffalo, New York)

      bko wrote:

      When Santa Fe Trail was released in 1940 it was to general critical acclaim. Though it is in no way a classic like Gone With the Wind, it's view of the coming Civil War is not too dissimilar from the David O. Selznick film that also had Olivia DeHavilland as one of its stars. It was a popularly held view of the time, the abolitionists were well intentioned rabble rousers who brought on the Civil War and as Errol Flynn as J.E.B. Stuart says, the south will settle the slavery issue in its own time.

      Back in the day even in A westerns like Santa Fe Trail, liberal use of the facts involving noted historical figures was taken. The fact that Stuart, Custer, Longstreet, Pickett, Sheridan, and Hood would all graduate West Point in the same class was really a minor bending of the rules. The following year with Errol Flynn as Custer in They Died With Their Boots On, they got Custer's graduation class right, but then compounded his life with more errors.

      One interesting fact that no one mentions in this film is Henry O'Neill as the real life Cyrus K. Holliday (1826-1900) who considerably outlived just about everyone portrayed in the film. He's of critical importance in Kansas history as having built the Santa Fe railroad. His children neither went to West Point as William Lundigan, did graduating with all these Civil War heroes, nor did his daughter wind up marrying one.

      Olivia DeHavilland playing her usual heroine, gets out of the crinoline for a bit as a Calamity Jane type daughter to Henry O'Neill. I have to say she showed quite a bit more spunk than her normal range of leading ladies at the time at Warner Brothers. She certainly Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan as George A. Custer on their toes.

      If people remember anything at all about Santa Fe Trail today it is Raymond Massey as the fanatical John Brown. Yet even there, Brown has his hypocritical moments when he's quite ready to let a barn full of recent runaway slaves burn down so he can kill Errol Flynn in it. It doesn't ring true with the character as defined by Massey, I fault the scriptwriters there. Massey repeated his John Brown character in the later Seven Men From Now. Other than Abraham Lincoln it is the role that actor is most identified with.

      As an action western though, Santa Fe Trail can't be beat. The battle scene with the army breaking John Brown's siege at Harper's Ferry is well staged. You really do think you are at Harper's Ferry watching a newsreel.

      Though it never was history and hasn't worn well in its interpretation, western fans will still like Santa Fe Trail.
      Best Wishes
      London- England