Ronald Wilson Reagan was in the movie Sante Fe Trail with Olivia De Havilland

In the movie “Santa Fe Trail” Reagan got his first big role. This movie did have a very interesting subject matter. It reminds me of a movie his co-star Olivia De Havilland starred in just one year earlier (“Gone with the Wind”). Today I am dearling  with the sensitive subject matter in “Santa Fe Trail.”

Clips from the movie “Santa Fe Trail put to music by Taylor Swift.

Santa Fe Trail, Errol Flynn‘s third western, has precisely nothing to do with the titular trail. Instead, the film is a simplistic retelling of the John Brown legend, with Raymond Massey playing the famed abolitionist. The events leading up to the bloody confrontation between Brown and the US Army at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, are treated in a painstakingly even-handed fashion: Brown’s desire to free the slaves is “right” but his methods are “wrong.” Whenever the leading characters are asked about their own feelings towards slavery, the response is along the noncommittal lines of “A lot of people are asking those questions,” “I don’t have the answer to that,” and so forth. Before we get to the meat of the story, we are treated to a great deal of byplay between West Point graduates Jeb Stuart (Flynn) and George Armstrong Custer (Ronald Reagan), who carry on a friendly rivalry over the affections of one Kit Carson Halliday (Olivia DeHavilland). Just so we know that the picture is meant to be a follow-up to WarnersDodge City and Virginia City, Flynn is saddled with Alan Hale and “Big Boy” Williams, his comic sidekicks from those earlier films. Despite its muddled point of view, Santa Fe Trail is often breathtaking entertainment, excitingly staged by director Michael Curtiz. The film’s public domain status has made Santa Fe Trail one of the most easily accessible of Errol Flynn‘s Warner Bros. vehicles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


I also want to look at another movie that deals with the issue of slavery. “Gone with the Wind” also stars Olivia De Havilland. Below is a clip from a series from ABC TV that was put together in 1987 to show the making of “Gone with the Wind.”

Reel to Real: Gone with the Wind & The Civil War in Arkansas


Reel to Real: Gone with the Wind and the Civil War in ArkansasOn April 30, 2011, Historic Arkansas Museum will mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with tandem exhibits comparing the romanticized vision of the “old south” with the often harsh reality of life as it was for many in Arkansas, 1861 through 1865.Reel to Real: Gone with the Wind and the Civil War in Arkansas will pair up rarely seen items from the film Gone with the Windwith actual objects and firsthand accounts of the Civil War in Arkansas.In the Reel exhibit featuring the Shaw-Tumblin Gone with the WindCollection, visitors will enter into the film world of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler via costumes, photos and movie outtakes. The exhibit will explore the influence of movies on the perspectives and attitudes of the public.

The Real portion of the exhibit, portrays the true nature of the conflict with Arkansas slave narratives, women’s diaries, letters home from soldiers as well as uniforms and weaponry, all from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibit will bring the realities of war to life, with the words, stories and songs of those who endured the ordeal of war in Arkansas.

Whoopi Goldberg was very upset that she was not mentioned for winning the best supporting actress for 1990 for “Ghost” which was 50 years after Hattie McDaniel had won for “Gone with the Wind.” That was 50 years of white actresses between them.

Hattie McDaniel wins Best Supporting Actress for Gone With The Wind, becoming the first black actor to win an Academy Award.


The making of “Gone with the Wind.”

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