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A young frontier scout helps guide a freight wagon train across the country, fighting off Indians and evil traders, while his two crusty companions try and save him from falling in love. Written by
Rick Johnson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When it was re-released theatrically in 1950 by Favorite Films, this film was often shown in tandem with Rocky Mountain Mystery (1935), which had been re-titled 'Fighting Westerner', or Born to the West (1937), which had been re-titled 'Hell Town'. See more »
He ain't been himself for the last three days. I've been watching him pretty close. Yesterday, he only had eleven drinks.
And he's been a-working too. Doing things he don't have to do.
She's got him all right.
Let's get drunk!
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Opening card: "In the days of the Civil War, the hard-won frontier country west of the Mississippi needed supplies. There were no railroads. Shipping had been tied up by the war. The burden of Transportation was taken up by trains of freight wagons - - Fighting Caravans banded together for the dangerous trip to California." See more »
In the early days of sound Paramount purchased a number of Zene Grey stories to be filmed, mostly as B picture attractions and done by their rising new B picture cowboy, Randolph Scott. Fighting Caravans however got the A picture treatment and starred Gary Cooper.
Cooper plays a young hell raising scout who's been taught the ways of the woods by two grizzled old timers, Ernest Torrence and Tully Marshall. All three of them sign on to guide a wagon train in the 1860s west. Adding to the attraction for Cooper is pretty young Lily Damita who earlier on pretended to be his wife to get him out of trouble with a sheriff.
A lot of the same ground was covered by Twentieth Century Fox the year before with The Big Trail and its new star John Wayne. The Big Trail however failed to find its audience, but Fighting Caravans with proved box office star Cooper showed a respectable profit for Paramount-Publix as the white mountain studio was called at that time. Of course both films owe plenty to James Cruze's silent classic, The Covered Wagon.
Like in The Big Trail the villain here is a renegade white man, stirring up the Indians. The very rousing attack on the wagon train during the climax had elements of it borrowed over 20 years later in the James Stewart western, Bend of the River.
A whole lot of Gary Cooper's early sound films for some reason are never shown. Possible that prints no longer exist. Though Fighting Caravans is not a great film, it's an entertaining one. In fact a few years later it was remade by Randolph Scott in Wagon Wheels where that film used all kinds of stock footage from this one.
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