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Fighting Caravans (1931)

Gary Cooper , Lili Damita , David Burton , Otto Brower  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Lili Damita, Ernest Torrence, Tully Marshall, Fred Kohler
  • Directors: David Burton, Otto Brower
  • Writers: Agnes Brand Leahy, Edward E. Paramore Jr., Keene Thompson, Zane Grey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A6T24O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,146 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fighting Caravans" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Gary Cooper stars in this action packed Zane Grey classic! Welcome to the Civil War where fighting caravans of freight wagons struggle to make their way west, fighting enemies at every turn. A young frontier scout helps guide a freight wagon train across the country, fighting off Indians and evil traders. Meanwhile, his two crusty companions try and save him from falling in love with the hot-tempered French maiden Lili Damita who is determined to make her way West alone.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer 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
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early Coop foreshadows future roles March 11, 2011
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun to watch January 12, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I love Gary Cooper movies he was a real actor no special effects for him just pure acting ability. Would love more Cooper movies!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fighting caravans April 4, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|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.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WAGON TRAINS AND KIOWA INDIANS July 31, 2008
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.
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