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Fighting Caravans [Import]

Gary Cooper , Lili Damita , David Burton , Otto Brower    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Low-rent version of "The Big Trail"... June 10 2001
Format:DVD
A semi-clone of "The Big Trail", Cooper takes over the spot DUKE played, as a frontiersman/guide for a wagon train.
While "Fighting Caravans" is not as expansive as "The Big Trail", and while the young Gary Cooper is no young John Wayne, this early western is pretty entertaining.
In the story, Cooper helps the wagon train fend off Indians and evil traders, while his two crusty companions try and save him from falling in love.
There's plenty of action, and there's even a hint of pre-code Hollywood, as Cooper's character practically attempts to blackmail his new sweetheart into fooling around with him.
Laserlight/Delta found a pretty fair print, but there are several missing frames. The image will occasionally "black out", but while annoying, does not interfere with viewing. Originally 92 minutes, this print seems to be more or less intact, missing perhaps two or three minutes.
The story moves along well, and the opening credits alone are pretty snazzy for 1931.
The film has much to recommend it, and while "The Big Trail" is superior, this early Cooper vehicle is worth adding to your western DVD collection. Especially for the low price the disc is being offered at, you should definitely pick this one up.
Film fans should look (or listen!), for Eugene Pallette, of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" fame. He's here in a minor supporting role some seven years before he played Friar Tuck.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low-rent version of "The Big Trail"... June 10 2001
By Mark Savary - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
A semi-clone of "The Big Trail", Cooper takes over the spot DUKE played, as a frontiersman/guide for a wagon train.
While "Fighting Caravans" is not as expansive as "The Big Trail", and while the young Gary Cooper is no young John Wayne, this early western is pretty entertaining.
In the story, Cooper helps the wagon train fend off Indians and evil traders, while his two crusty companions try and save him from falling in love.
There's plenty of action, and there's even a hint of pre-code Hollywood, as Cooper's character practically attempts to blackmail his new sweetheart into fooling around with him.
Laserlight/Delta found a pretty fair print, but there are several missing frames. The image will occasionally "black out", but while annoying, does not interfere with viewing. Originally 92 minutes, this print seems to be more or less intact, missing perhaps two or three minutes.
The story moves along well, and the opening credits alone are pretty snazzy for 1931.
The film has much to recommend it, and while "The Big Trail" is superior, this early Cooper vehicle is worth adding to your western DVD collection. Especially for the low price the disc is being offered at, you should definitely pick this one up.
Film fans should look (or listen!), for Eugene Pallette, of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" fame. He's here in a minor supporting role some seven years before he played Friar Tuck.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early Coop foreshadows future roles March 11 2011
By Chrijeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Though not quite as good as Wild Horse Mesa, which was the only previous example of this series that I had seen, this low-rent BW Western has its points. Gary Cooper, then 30 and still more or less confined to B-pictures, plays Clint Belmet, a young frontiersman who, with the Civil War raging back East, signs on, along with his mentors Bill Jackson (Ernest Torrance) and Jim Bridger (Tully Marshall), to guide a wagon train to the Coast. The army is being withdrawn from the Western posts, making the trip doubly hazardous, and a spirited young woman named Felice (Lily Damita), granddaughter of one of Lafayette's officers, who is bound and determined she'll make it to California without any male help, complicates the picture still more when she helps Jackson and Bridger extract Clint from the clutches of a Missouri lawman (Charles Winninger). The hard hand of nature is also against the wagoners as they struggle over rivers and mountains (internal hints suggest that they're taking a southern route, probably the old Santa Fe Trail). Meanwhile Clint, uncomfortable with the concept of owing his precious liberty to a woman, is trying to strike a balance between his attraction and gratitude to Felice and his obligations to the two old men who've raised him.

Cooper here is clearly establishing the laconic, woman-shy persona he would bring to the screen in many films to come, while Damita (who, like Cooper, had begun in silents, mostly German and French ones, and ten years hence would become the mother of Errol Flynn's son Sean) plays off him well as a brave spitfire in love. The movie also has the great advantage of having been filmed at a time when there were still many technical advisors around who had actually known the Old West, or at least heard of it from those who had; the wagons particularly are very authentic. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspects are Torrance as the shambling Scotsman Jackson and Marshall as Bridger--they provide not only some good comic scenes but a certain pathos as representatives of a class of frontiersman quickly growing obsolete, yet well aware that without them the newly developing West could never have existed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun to watch Jan. 12 2014
By Howard L. Kitter - Published on Amazon.com
I love Gary Cooper movies he was a real actor no special effects for him just pure acting ability. Would love more Cooper movies!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fighting caravans April 4 2013
By Dolores Quintana - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I like Gary Cooper! The movie was kinda cheesy but " the Coop" was great. He is a gentleman, where in this day & age there are very few. I just like him.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WAGON TRAINS AND KIOWA INDIANS July 31 2008
By Kay's Husband - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
It would be unfair of me to be too critical of this 1931 movie which appeared early into the 'talkie' era of movies. And based on a Zane Grey novel of the late 1920s the fictional background is somewhat sound. That said, however, the major point of the scout becoming outdated by the railroad just is not true. The railroads were not connected until four years after the Civil War in 1869 at Provo, Utah, but the era of the frontier scout continued up to and a little past 1890 at Wounded Knee in the Dakotas.

I have the latest 2 disc copy of The Big Trail so I am not unaware of that movie, but I see little resemblance between these two films, though the directors could not have been unaware of either Zane Grey's book or each other's movies.

For me the scenes of this movie are not tied together well and the resultant condition seems somewhat ragged, with Cooper being off screen almost as much as he is on. Leaving his two scout mentors soaking up a lot of time on screen. And though the movie has its action moments, much of the time very little is really happening. One standout in the movie is Lili Damita, her role and her acting cannot be understated. Cooper is young without his later varnish, but much of what he will later become does show through. While Lili Damita is very accomplished and holds her own with all the actors.

I must attest also that I have several movies from the early and mid-1930s, 24 Hopalong Cassidy movies especially, and any of those are much better in their clarity and storyline. I also treasure the early John Wayne movies (20) that are in many places really not much above 'silent movies' with only music playing as the horses clamber over the plains. So it is just not the fact of this movie having a 1931 date that is uncomfortable to me, it is really the lack of cohesion and smoothness. Even the early Gene Autry movies are much more accomplished.

I read westerns as well as enjoy western movies, but I cannot give this effort more than 3 stars. It may just be my copy of the movie on DVD, but unless some scenes have been excised or edited out, for me the movie remains very uneven. It is a movie to see if you are at all interested in westerns or if you have an interest in early Hollywood black and white movies, or even early Gary Cooper. But for the general viewer I don't think this movie will afford them that much enjoyment.

Semper Fi.
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