SANTA FE TRAIL
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL CURTIZ
PRODUCED BY RPBERT FELLOWS/HAL B. WALLIS
MUSIC BY MAX STEINER
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
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...
Robert Buckner ... (original screenplay)
Robert Fellows ... associate producer
Hal B. Wallis ... executive producer
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).
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."
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.
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."
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."
Lasky Mesa, West Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Sonora, California, USA
Warner Ranch, Calabasas, California, USA
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA (location filming)
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