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Western films, from silent to today

Sante Fe Passage (1955)

Sante Fe Passage (1955) posterJohn Payne plays Kirby Randolph, who makes his living scouting the way West for wagon trains.

One night, he and partner Sam Beekman (Slim Pickens) slip into the hills to make a trade with the Kiowa in return for safe passage of a wagon train.

While they’re trading, the rest of the Kiowa band is attacking, wiping out the whites Randolph was hired to guide.

From that point on, Randolph is known as a traitor. And from that point on, Randolph has a bitter hatred for Indians and half-breeds.

Enter Jess Griswold, an American taking a cache of guns to Sante Fe for sale to the Mexican army. He’s the one man willing to hire Randolph, over the objections of his partner, Aurelie St. Clair (Faith Domergue).

And so they head West. But it isn’t long before there’s trouble. Chief Satank, Randolph’s old nemesis, learns of the precious cargo and wants the guns for himself.

Meanwhile, Griswold plans to marry Aurelie, who isn’t as quick to return his affections. She has her eyes on Randolph, but he doesn’t know she’s a half-breed.


Well done wagon train Western, complete with a surprise double cross and with occasional touches of humor.

Prior to a trade with the Indians, for instance, Randolph and Beekman file off the firing pins on the guns they’ll be giving the Kiowa, so the weapons will explode on the first or second pull of the trigger. The plan nearly backfires when Satank insists they demonstrate the weapons.

In another unusual plot twice, Randolph partially scalps Satank during one attack. Satank, horribly disfigured, is eager to return the favor.

And to keep things interesting, Payne’s character is adament about his hatred of Indians, and not afraid to let Aurelie know it, even after they’ve fallen for one another.

John Payne as Kirby Randolph and Faith Domergue as Aurelie St. Claire in Sante Fe Passage (1955)Directed by:
William Whitney

John Payne … Kirby Randolph
Faith Domergue … Aurelie St. Clair
Rod Cameron … Jess Griswold
Slim Pickens … Sam Beekman
Irene Tedrow … Ptewaquin
George Keymas … Chief Satank
Leo Gordon … Tuss McLawery
Anthony Caruso … Chavez

Runtime: 90 min.

Memorable lines:

Kirby Randolph, as he prepares to bargain with Chief Satank: “Alright, Sam, pack the rest of the stuff. We’ll be on our way.”
Sam Beekman: “We? How’d I get drug into this?”
Randolph: “Alright, I’ll go alone then.”
Beekman: “Oh no you don’t. If they’re gonna lift your scalp, I want to peek under it to see what you’ve been using for brains.”

Sam Beekman to Kirby Randolph: “You know, it seems like I can smell an Indian behind every rock. I’ve got that ol’ crawly feelin’ again,”
Kirby Randolph: “Ever try soap and water for that.”

Rod Cameron as Jess Griswold and Faith Domergue as Aurelie St. Clair in Sante Fe Passage (1955)Sam Beekman: “We’re drinkin’ to the slickest little trick since Eve got horse traded into eatin’ apples.”

Sam Beekman: “Just our luck to run into a slick green-eyed female.”

Ptewaquin: “You are wrong about the white scout.”
Aurelie St. Clair: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ptewaquin: “He is no traitor to his people. His eyes are as straight as the eagle and as clear as a mountain stream.”

Sam Beekman, as Kirby Randolph sits nursing an arrow in his shoulder: “Well, you sure got yourself all plummaged up.”

Chief Satank, after shooting Chavez: “Don’t like him. Stink too much like buffalo.”

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