[Marxism] Santa Fe Trail

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 25 18:50:54 MDT 2009


This piece of shit 1940 movie that I just stumbled across on the TCM 
cable network has future Confederate General Jeb Stuart (Errol Flynn) in 
pursuit of a villainous John Brown (Raymond Massey, who played Lincoln 
in  another movie). This John Brown is even more of a cardboard figure 
than the carpetbaggers in "Gone with the Wind". Stuart rides side by 
side with General George Custer (Ronald Reagan!)

Warner Brothers dropped its copyright long ago, so you can watch this 
racist garbage on youtube:


Here's what the wiki says:

Typical of the blatantly racist overtones of many "historical" movies of 
the era, the movie is drastically critical of John Brown, portraying him 
as a bloodthirsty villain and blaming him for causing the Civil War, 
thereby exonerating the Confederacy for seceding. African-Americans are 
portrayed as practically content to be slaves and too fearful to fight 
with Brown in his abolitionist crusade, whereas in reality about one 
fourth of Brown's group were African-American. After being freed, some 
African-Americans in the film chant "We's free! We's free!", but later 
freed slaves say "We don't want it" with regards to freedom.

Massey's John Brown eagerly endorses breaking apart the union of the 
United States, as though abolitionism was the threat to the union rather 
than slavery. The movie was made on the eve of World War II, and its 
tone and political subtext express a desire to reconcile the nation's 
dispute over slavery which brought about the American Civil War and 
appeal to moviegoers in both the southern and northern United States. 
The American Civil War and abolition of slavery are presented as an 
unnecessary tragedy caused by an anarchic madman. The heroic 
protagonists such as Flynn's Jeb Stuart and Reagan's Custer seem unable 
to conceive how the issue of slavery could place them at odds in the 
near future, even though by 1859 hostility between the pro/anti-slavery 
states had reached a boiling point. It has been argued that such 
blatantly racist and historically inaccurate "fantasy" typical of the 
early 20th Century cinema caused immeasurable harm to the American 
conscience, by providing justification to Southern segregationists 
opposed to the American Civil Rights movement in subsequent decades.


I would add only one thing of some interest. Robert Buckner, the guy who 
wrote the screenplay for this racist trash, also produced "Mission to 
Moscow", the movie that glorified Stalin.

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