This film could have appropriately been titled "The Santa Fe Trail", but that was the name of an Errol Flynn western released that very same year that had virtually nothing to do with the Santa Fe Trail. Such was Hollywood! The given title is also fine........In contrast to most other reviewers, I liked this film, despite all the historical and geographical misrepresentations, which was pretty much standard for films of this era.........Starting with the villains, as usual, Harry Woods made a charismatic villain, as the hatchet man for the top villain: General Larue: acting president of the Texas Republic in 1836, while Sam Houston was in Washington, lobbying for statehood for Texas. Henry Brandon made a charismatic Gen. Larue, being suitably dark and brooding. I strongly suspect this character represented a highly distorted version of the 2nd president of the Texas Republic: Lamarr. Even their names somewhat resemble each other. Like Larue, Lamarr was an armchair empire builder. He lobbied for an army to take over New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, if not proceeding to the Pacific Ocean! But, a wiser congress nixed this idea, as stretching the limited resources of the fledgling country to thinly
was deemed unadvisable. They were more concerned about their disputed southern border with Mexico, and holding onto what they had, since Mexico didn't recognize Texas as a separate entity......Actually, the basic plot strongly resembles that of "The Adventures of Robin Hood", released 2 years before. Thus, Gen. Larue becomes the equivalent of Prince John, while President Houston is the equivalent of King Richard: far from his country on important business. Villain Harry Woods is the equivalent of Sir Guy. Roy is the equivalent of Robin Hood, and Gabby Hayes, of Little John, perhaps, while Julie Bishop, as Jane, fills the shoes of Maid Marian.........Now, as to my review title: Gen. Larue imposes a tax on all wagon traffic traveling through Texas territory on the Santa Fe Trail. Historically, the only problem is that the Santa Fe Trail didn't pass through any confirmed Texas territory. The confirmed republic was much smaller than the present state of Texas, and the Trail didn't even pass through any Texas territory today. Larue was defining Texas as including the substantial disputed areas to the north and west, even well beyond the boundaries of the present state of Texas. Some maps do indicate these regions as being part of the Texas Republic........Old Si Jenks made an interesting second string Gabby. Although sometimes on opposite sides of fence, they had fun teasing each other. Both had spent time in vaudeville.......Roy and Gabby began as Texas Rangers, but quit when LaRue charged them with enforcing his tax on wagons. Larue then charged them with treason, and they were scheduled for a hanging, but fate intervened, as Houston's entourage showed up just in time to combat Larue's forces.......Julie Bishop, as Jane, was itching to get a chance to serve justice on Larue, whom she blamed for the death of her father by a Mexican firing squad. She got this chance when she was in Larue's second story office when Houston's entourage showed up with guns blazing. Larue was about to shoot Houston with his rifle when Jane shot him in the back. She and Roy had their ups and downs during the film, but they ended up strolling together. See it at YouTube.