Caravan (1946) Poster

(1946)

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Mad, bad and wonderful to know!
glyntreharne-123 November 2003
Wild Gainsborough melodrama adapted from the purple pen of Lady Eleanor Smith with marvellous camp performances from Dennis Price and Robert Helpmann. There is also an athletic performance from Stewart Granger, while Anne Crawford follows in the distinguished footsteps of Phyllis Calvert & Patricia Roc by offering us the blandest of leading ladies. Jean Kent, however, is on hand as a spirited travelling woman. Kent can't sing and she can't dance, but she certainly is a lot of fun, even if she does lay on the sex appeal with a trowel. Almost sixty years on it is easy to see why this series of melodramas were so popular. If you can leave your critical faculties to one side, this is one to enjoy.
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7/10
Fun slice of Gainsborough melodrama with Jean Kent as sexy Spanish gypsy!
jem13217 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This fun slice of Gainsborough melodrama may have been blasted by the critics, but it was a hit in it's day and it still provides plenty of entertainment for those with an open mind. Regular Gainsborough leading man Stewart Granger stars as Richard Darrell, a would-be writer in Regency England who is hopelessly in love with the beautiful, well-to-do Oriana (Anne Crawford). Oriana loves him back but is acutely aware of his lack of social status. So Granger takes on a quest that will provide him with money and have his book published. Hired by a Spanish nobleman Don Carlos, who has met by pure chance, his job is to transport a valuable necklace to Spain. Trouble is, Oriana's father has just died and her her devious, diabolical friend Sir Francis Castleton (Dennis Price, also hopelessly in love with Oriana) is executor of her father's estate. Oriana is left virtually penniless in Sir Francis' cunning plan to win Oriana and hire a hit man (Robert Helpmann) to kill Granger and steal the necklace. Yet none of these characters had counted on the determination of a fiery Spanish gypsy girl (Jean Kent) also in love with Granger....

This film is a lot of fun. It's pure nonsense of course, yet it's rollicking pace, outlandish twists and turns and period setting give it a unique charm. Kent is especially fun as the gypsy Rosal. Kent can't sing or dance very well, and that accent is a shocker, yet she's vibrant, capturing the audience's imagination every time she appears on screen. She's in direct contrast to the limpid blonde heroine Anne Crawford, who really has no presence on-screen or chemistry with Granger. Her wooden acting and over-enunciation soon become tiresome, hence Kent's attractiveness if doubled. I wonder why they didn't cast Phyllis Calvert in the Oriana role. Calvert had worked well and shared good chemistry with Granger in a number of Gainsborough vehicles (including the previous year's Madonna Of The Seven Moons , my favourite Gainsboriugh film)prior to this. Perhaps they feared audiences were growing tired if the partnership? Perhaps Calvert wanted out of her Gainsborough contract? Who knows, yet Calvert's refined dignity and quality of tragic reserve is sorely missed here.

Granger has the sort of arrogant, yet attractive adventurous role he liked best. It's really a forerunner to his Hollywood vehicles. Price chews scenery and is delicious as the villain Sir Francis, wonderfully over-the-top, and blowing Crawford right off the screen. Yet the film belongs to Miss Kent as the bewitching Rosal. After Granger has been critically wounded by Spanish men hired to kill him, the resourceful Kent nurses Granger back to health in her cave. It is revealed he is suffering from memory loss, and Kent, by now hopelessly in love with Granger (passions abound in Gainsborough!), tries to win him with her charms. It almost works too, with Granger forgetting his limpid lover's name- yet Kent mentions Oriana and Granger is immediately drawn back into her web.

It's a bit crazy to ask the viewer to believe that Granger, after being offered freedom and passion with a beautiful gypsy high up in the Spanish caves, still pines for his wooden English doll, but there you go. Love hurts. So Oriana, having believed Richard is long dead, travels to Spain to find out the truth on a hunch that he may still be alive. She has since married the cunning Price, and Granger, finding this out, marries Rosal in revenge. But fate draws the lovers back together......

Yes, it's overwrought, the script is at times laughable and it's waaay far-fetched, yet once you start watching Caravan I doubt you will turn it off until the very end.
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5/10
Cheerful Hollywood Hooey from Gainsborough Studios
alonzoiii-16 August 2012
Dashing Stewart Granger and sneering Dennis Price love the same blonde maiden from childhood. But Granger ends up wounded with amnesia in a gypsy CARAVAN and linked to a flamenco dancing hot momma. And the blonde maiden is hooked up to dastardly Dennis. Will prim blonde maiden and dashing Stewart end up together, even though there are several countries between them, or will true love fail to triumph?

Most of the mid-40s Gainsborough Gothic romances I've seen have some slight restraint which labels them as British. Sure, there is villainy a-plenty, and firm jawed heroism from Granger and others. But, things don't really get silly. (Well, maybe in Uncle Silas, but that movie really is sui generis).

Well, here, nobody is really taking this thing seriously. Dennis Price, in particular, seems inspired by Tod Slaughter (but with one bout of demonic laughing, alas), as he marries our heroine, and then subjects her immediately to a variety of over the top indignities. The gal playing the hot blooded, flamenco dancing gypsy senorita also has amped up the hot blooded Latin thing to eleven, and is rather fun. The scriptwriter (and, I expect, the original "famous" novel) does not bother with trying to make much sense, and the film, heaven knows, may be better off for that. However, unceasing self-mockery is always a dangerous thing for a genre film, and it is a bit hard to care much about the goings on when the film's creators don't seem much invested in them.

Good for a laugh when Dennis Price is on screen, but Gainsborough did this sort of thing much better elsewhere.
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4/10
Amiable tosh - specially for nostalgia buffs.
tgillard23 November 2000
Nostalgic visit to wartime British cinema for old timers - younger viewers will only see the corniness. All through, I was kept watching by set-ups that promised the effects that could have helped me buy this melodrama of romantic love (Granger, Crawford) seriously spiked by dastardly Price in Regency England and Carmen's Spain - but that, in the end, delivered a mixture of laughable action and turgid dialogue. Price's scenery-chewing performance is wonderfully over the top.
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6/10
what a hoot
malcolmgsw28 August 2017
It is a real hoot to see Dennis Price being as suavely evil as possible.Robert Helpmann as his slimy servant not to mention Jean Kent as the gypsy dancer.They rather put in the shade Anne Crawford who is quite prepared to marry when she believes Granger to be dead,and Granger

who is happy to marry to keep her happy.So everything you would expect from a typical Gainsborough film.
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