For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
233 Ratings

Santa Fe Trail

Directed by Michael Curtiz
United States, 1940
Western, History, Drama


The story of Jeb Stewart, 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.

Our take

A key figure of Hollywood’s Golden Age, director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce) made this thrilling saga without predicting it would become a top hit at the box office. Starring acting duo Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Santa Fe Trail is a riveting, high-powered western.

Santa Fe Trail Directed by Michael Curtiz

What are people saying?

  • dionysus67's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    The Flynn/Reagan duo should not obscure this western's many merits, most of which stem from the well-deserved emphasis on the Christian fundamentalist John Brown (Massey tops the performances) and his megalomaniac self-induced charisma, which is about to plunge a nation. Curtiz builds well his character but the strengths stem from superb galloping and battle scenes, orchestrated with bravura and with dramatic force.

  • Jason's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    Bonzo goes to Bitburg. Not just a matter of the politics of representation and so forth (i.e. its outright racism and idiot machismo), SANTA FE TRAIL is end-to-end ideologically prurient. It's not alone, not exactly an outlier, none of this an excuse. The film is obviously geared toward conservatives—many at the time would have been isolationists—and it started doing the rounds one December before Pearl Harbor's.

  • Alex's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    This is an interesting artifact. It certainly works as a movie–good pacing with parallels between the military & romantic campaigns. Flynn and de Havilland are charming. The politics are hard to swallow in this day and age. For its time, it feels like an awful polemic against free thought: follow orders, the government knows best, etc. Slavery, or in 40's terms, Jim Crow Laws, will change in time–be patient. Grrr.

  • DebraM's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    Technically it's reasonably well constructed (this is Curtiz after all) and the casting is particularly good for a 1940 Hollywood western. However, examining this as a cultural object it falls down badly. Besides the many historical inaccuracies, the positing of John Brown and the abolitionists as pseudo terrorists is for modern audiences, quite repulsive. Massey is the standout here.

  • Jeff Gay's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    Errol Flynn as Jeb Stuart! Ronald Rayguns as George Custer!! Bahahahaha! As if this trash has any historical significance! As if we are suppose to re-examine this film “in context” in an effort to appreciate some kind of misguided artistry. As if we are supposed to ignore how African Americans are depicted here, or consider the director an auteur just bc he made Casablanca. None of this holds any water

  • the_mentaculus's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    An absolutely fascinating yet, thankfully, still entertaining Flynn/de Havilland western. It is peculiar in a few ways: Reagan plays Custer as Wingman; a year after this, Flynn plays Custer; and the film has an (shockingly today) ambivalence towards slavery. John Brown's portrayal as misguided religious zealot / domestic terrorist made the experience curiouser and curiouser. A testament to historical perspective.

  • AKFilmFan's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    While it doesn't take sides politically this Western is an entertaining re-teaming of Curtiz, Flynn, and de Havilland but isn't their best work together.

  • Robert Karol's rating of the film Santa Fe Trail

    A surprisingly mediocre film, only interesting when when it is most blatant in its rewriting of history. It fails even as a vehicle for Flynn & de Havilland, who are constantly pushed aside by a ramshackle plot.

Related films