Monday, April 12, 2010

Oliva Goes West

Our film this week was Santa Fe Trail, with Olivia de Havilland as Kit Carson Hailliday, the love interest of J.E.B. Stuart (Errol Flynn) and George Armstrong Custer (Ronald Reagan).  The three are caught up in the terrorist activities of John Brown (played here with great gusto by Raymond Massey), a provocateur who is attempting to being a war to eliminate slavery in the United States.  Most of the plot in this film has to do with Stuart and Custer trying to catch Brown, as he travels through Kansas wreaking havoc. 

There is quite a bit of rhetoric in the movie - how Stuart and Custer only need to obey the law, and the evil of slavery will EVENTUALLY be realized and eliminated, and the history in this movie is so weak as to be nearly laughable. For example, J.E.B. Stuart never married (sorry Olivia),  and the real Custer wed Elizabeth Clift Bacon - a brunette, not the blonde Charlotte as is implied in this movie.  Never mind the fact that Custer graduated from West Point in 1861, a Stuart graduated in 1854 (he actually did end up in Kansas, while Custer went right out of the Point into service in the Civil War). They certainly were not classmates. They weren't even in the school at the same time.  Did they even ever meet? - maybe on the field of battle at Bull Run. They were on opposite sides, though.

Like our film last week, Olivia is window-dressing to the bromance between Flynn and Reagan.  She flirts with her two suitors, eventually deciding on Flynn as her love interest (and are we really surprised?).  Her best scene is not with Flynn, however, it is with Gene Reynolds as Jason Brown, John Brown's drying son.  Her kindness radiates through as she listens to the boy describe the horror of his life with his father.  Here's the scene where they meet:



Next week, we'll be doing a movie with a little more meat for the talented Ms. de Havilland.  Hope you'll visit us then.