Caravan (1946 film)

Last updated

Caravan
"Caravan" (1946 film).jpg
Detail from Italian poster
Directed by Arthur Crabtree
Written by Roland Pertwee
scenario editor
H Ostrer
Based on Caravan
by Eleanor Smith
Produced by Harold Huth
executive
Maurice Ostrer
Starring Stewart Granger
Jean Kent
Anne Crawford
Dennis Price
Robert Helpmann
Gerard Heinz
Cinematography Stephen Dade
Cyril J. Knowles (location photography)
Edited byCharles Knott
Music by Bretton Byrd (uncredited)
Distributed by General Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 3 June 1946 (1946-06-03)(UK)
August 1949 (USA)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office649,800 admissions (France) [1]

Caravan is a 1946 British black-and-white drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree. It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas and is based on the 1942 novel Caravan by Eleanor Smith. [2]

Contents

Stewart Granger later called the movie "terrible". [3]

Plot

In late 19th-century London, destitute Richard Darrell (Stewart Granger) rescues Don Carlos (Gerard Heinz) from two robbers. When Richard returns for the manuscript he inadvertently left behind, he is encouraged by Don Carlos to talk about his background. The son of a poor country doctor, he met the upper class Oriana Camperdene and Francis Castleton during their childhood; he and Francis became rivals for Oriana's affections. Oriana and her father left for Spain, but the couple were reunited as adults and agreed to marry, much to Francis's disgust. However, they postponed the wedding for a year so that Richard could go to London and make his fortune as a writer. However, though he has completed a novel, no one wants to publish it and his year is almost up. Don Carlos offers to publish it and asks him to take a valuable necklace, which once belonged to Queen Isabella of Castile, to Granada.

Bidding farewell to Oriana (Anne Crawford), Richard sets out. On the way, he meets Wycroft (Robert Helpmann), who assaults, robs and nearly kills Richard on behalf of his dastardly master, Sir Francis Castleton (Dennis Price). Oriana thinks Richard is dead and, with her father recently dead, marries Francis, whilst Richard loses his memory as a result of the assault and marries a gypsy girl named Rosal (Jean Kent). However, everyone meets again...

Cast

Production

Original novel

The film was based on a novel by Eleanor Smith which was published in 1943. [4] It was one of several novels by Smith to feature gypsies. [5] Film rights were purchased by Gainsborough Pictures who had enjoyed success during the war with a series of melodramatic movies, starting with The Man in Grey (1943), also based on a novel by Smith. Later Gainsborough melodramas included two which were written by Roland Pertwee and directed by Arthur Crabtree, Madonna of the Seven Moons (1944) and They Were Sisters (1945). The two men worked together again on Caravan.

Casting

The film's four leads were all under contract to Gainsborough and were well known for appearing in melodramas at the studio. Stewart Granger and Jean Kent had previously appeared together in Fanny By Gaslight and Madonna of the Seven Moons, and Anne Crawford who had been in They Were Sisters. Kent had normally played support roles but Maurice Ostrer, then head of Gainsborough, offered Kent a new contract just before filming which promoted her to star billing. [6] Dennis Price had been in A Place of One's Own (1945) and was used by Gainsborough in the sort of villainous roles that James Mason used to play. [7]

Filming

The film was meant to follow The Magic Bow , but that was postponed due to the illness of Phyllis Calvert so, Caravan had to be rushed into production. [8] Filming began in June 1945 on location in North Wales, with Snowdon standing in for Spain. [9] The unit then transferred to Gainsborough's studios at Shepherd's Bush in London. [10] Jean Kent met her future husband during the making of the movie. [11] She was described as Gainsborough's backup Margaret Lockwood. [12] Smith died in November 1945, aged only 43. [13]

Release

Box office

The film was one of the most popular British releases of 1946. [14] According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas. [15] [16]

Another source says it was the most successful film at the British box office in 1946 after The Wicked Lady , The Bells of St Marys , Piccadilly Incident , The Captive Heart and The Road to Utopia . [17] According to Kinematograph Weekly the 'biggest winner' at the box office in 1946 Britain was The Wicked Lady, with "runners up" being The Bells of St Marys, Piccadilly Incident, The Road to Utopia, Tomorrow is Forever, Brief Encounter, Wonder Man, Anchors Away, Kitty, The Captive Heart, The Corn is Green, Spanish Main, Leave Her to Heaven, Gilda, Caravan, Mildred Pierce, Blue Dahlia, Years Between, O.S.S., Spellbound, Courage of Lassie, My Reputation, London Town, Caesar and Cleopatra, Meet the Navy, Men of Two Worlds, Theirs is the Glory, The Overlanders, and Bedelia. [18]

Critical reception

The film was not released in the US until 1949. The New York Times wrote, "Granger and the rest of the cast alternate between grappling with stilted lines and an embarrassingly archaic situation with neither the players nor plot making much entertainment, while 'Caravan' moves with the speed of an oxcart." [19]

TV Guide noted "strong direction, brilliant individual performances, and production values far above the usual run of British films work beautifully together as one melodramatic situation is piled on another." [20]

Legacy

A 2003 article in Film History called it "so wild and unrestrained in its melodrama as to approach the near-burlesque level of the Tod Slaughter melodramas. Much of its fun is centred in the villains, with Dennis Price... and dancer Robert Helpmann teamed to make a bizarre but tremendously effective British Greenstreet/Lorre teaming. The lot throws in just about everything in terms of stock situations and characters, and even turns itself into a Western on occasion. The artificiality of many of the sets, and the fairly obvious back projection, don't add to the conviction – but realism is hardly a strongpoint in a film like this, though it does benefit from far more location shooting than most of its ilk." [21]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dennis Price</span> English actor (1915–1973)

Dennistoun Franklyn John Rose Price was an English actor, best remembered for his role as Louis Mazzini in the classic Ealing Studios film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and for his portrayal of the omnicompetent valet Jeeves in 1960s television adaptations of P. G. Wodehouse's stories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stewart Granger</span> British actor (1913-1993)

Stewart Granger was a British film actor, mainly associated with heroic and romantic leading roles. He was a popular leading man from the 1940s to the early 1960s, rising to fame through his appearances in the Gainsborough melodramas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gainsborough Pictures</span> Former British film studio

Gainsborough Pictures was a British film studio based on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in Poole Street, Hoxton in the former Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, north London. Gainsborough Studios was active between 1924 and 1951. The company was initially based at Islington Studios, which were built as a power station for the Great Northern & City Railway and later converted to studios.

<i>The Wicked Lady</i> 1945 film

The Wicked Lady is a 1945 British costume drama film directed by Leslie Arliss and starring Margaret Lockwood in the title role as a nobleman's wife who becomes a highwayman for the excitement. The film had one of the top audiences for a film of its period, 18.4 million.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phyllis Calvert</span> British film actress (1915–2002)

Phyllis Hannah Murray-Hill, known professionally as Phyllis Calvert, was an English film, stage and television actress. She was one of the leading stars of the Gainsborough melodramas of the 1940s such as The Man in Grey (1943) and was one of the most popular movie stars in Britain in the 1940s. She continued her acting career for another 50 years.

<i>Waterloo Road</i> (film) 1945 British film

Waterloo Road is a 1945 British film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring John Mills, Stewart Granger, and Alastair Sim. It is based on the Waterloo area of South London. According to the British Film Institute database, it is the third in an "unofficial trilogy" by Gilliat, preceded by Millions Like Us (1943) and Two Thousand Women (1944).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Kent</span> English actress

Jean Kent was an English film and television actress.

<i>The Man in Grey</i> 1943 film by Leslie Arliss

The Man in Grey is a 1943 British film melodrama made by Gainsborough Pictures; it is considered to be the first of a series of period costume dramas now known as the "Gainsborough melodramas". It was directed by Leslie Arliss and produced by Edward Black from a screenplay by Arliss and Margaret Kennedy that was adapted by Doreen Montgomery from the 1941 novel The Man in Grey by Eleanor Smith. The film's sets were designed by Walter Murton.

Arthur Crabtree was a British cinematographer and film director. He directed films with comedians such as Will Hay, the Crazy Gang and Arthur Askey and several of the Gainsborough Melodramas.

Leslie Arliss was an English screenwriter and director. He is best known for his work on the Gainsborough melodramas directing films such as The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady during the 1940s.

<i>Madonna of the Seven Moons</i> 1945 British film

Madonna of the Seven Moons is a 1945 British drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger and Patricia Roc. The film was produced by Rubeigh James Minney, with cinematography from Jack Cox and screenplay by Roland Pertwee. It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas.

<i>Fanny by Gaslight</i> (film) 1944 British film starring James Mason

Fanny by Gaslight is a 1944 British drama film, directed by Anthony Asquith and produced by Gainsborough Pictures, set in the 1870s and adapted from a 1940 novel by Michael Sadleir.

Edward Black was a British film producer, best known for being head of production at Gainsborough Studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s, during which time he oversaw production of the Gainsborough melodramas. He also produced such classic films as The Lady Vanishes (1938). Black has been called "one of the unsung heroes of the British film industry" and "one of the greatest figures in British film history, the maker of stars like Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, John Mills and Stewart Granger. He was also one of the very few producers whose films, over a considerable period, made money." In 1946 Mason called Black "the one good production executive" that J. Arthur Rank had. Frank Launder called Black "a great showman and yet he had a great feeling for scripts and spent more time on them than anyone I have ever known. His experimental films used to come off as successful as his others."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patricia Roc</span> British actress

Patricia Roc was an English film actress, popular in the Gainsborough melodramas such as Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and The Wicked Lady (1945), though she only made one film in Hollywood, Canyon Passage (1946). She also appeared in Millions Like Us (1943), Jassy (1945), The Brothers (1947) and When the Bough Breaks (1947).

The Gainsborough melodramas were a sequence of films produced by the British film studio Gainsborough Pictures between 1943 and 1947 which conformed to a melodramatic style. The melodramas were not a film series but an unrelated sequence of films which had similar themes that were usually developed by the same film crew and frequently recurring actors who played similar characters in each. They were mostly based on popular books by female novelists and they encompassed costume dramas, such as The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945), and modern-dress dramas, such as Love Story (1944) and They Were Sisters (1945). The popularity of the films with audiences peaked mid-1940s when cinema audiences consisted primarily of women. The influence of the films led to other British producers releasing similarly themed works, such as The Seventh Veil (1945), Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945), Hungry Hill (1947), The White Unicorn (1947), Idol of Paris (1948), and The Reluctant Widow (1950) and often with the talent that made Gainsborough melodramas successful.

<i>The Bad Lord Byron</i> 1949 film by David MacDonald

The Bad Lord Byron is a 1949 British historical drama film about the life of Lord Byron. It was directed by David MacDonald and starred Dennis Price as Byron with Mai Zetterling, Linden Travers and Joan Greenwood.

<i>The Magic Bow</i> 1946 film

The Magic Bow is a 1946 British musical film based on the life and loves of the Italian violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini. It was directed by Bernard Knowles. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.

<i>The Man in Grey</i> (novel)

The Man in Grey was a novel by the British writer Lady Eleanor Smith first published in 1941. It was a melodrama set in Regency Britain. A young woman unhappily married to a cold aristocrat falls in love with a strolling actor, but her hopes of eloping to happiness are wrecked by an old school friend who murders her in order to be able to marry her husband.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harold Huth</span> British actor and film producer

Harold Huth was a British actor, film director and producer.

<i>Caravan</i> (novel)

Caravan is a melodramatic novel by the British writer Lady Eleanor Smith first published in 1942. A young Englishman James Darrell goes on the road living with the Romany people in England while trying to make enough money as a writer to marry his sweetheart Oriana. However, she does not wait for him and marries a wealthy young Englishman. James then undertakes a mission to Spain for a business friend, while there he is attacked and robbed. He is rescued by a gypsy woman but he has lost his memory. Having lost his memory, he marries the gypsy girl, Rosal, without knowing of his former life in Britain. When his memory returns he resents the gypsy girl for deceiving him but stays with her and works as a secretary for a famous bullfighter. When Rosal is accidentally killed by the bullfighter the hero goes to Morocco. Upon his return to England his book on his journeys in Spain make him a famous and wealthy man. He reunites with his first love, Oriana, who is trapped in a loveless marriage. The book is written as a young reporter is sent to interview James Darrell on the occasion of his 70th birthday, and is written as a "flashback" by the old author.

References

  1. Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
  2. "Caravan" Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 13, Iss. 145, (Jan 1, 1946): 44.
  3. Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 230
  4. "NEW FICTION". The Sydney Morning Herald . 28 August 1943. p. 6. Retrieved 14 June 2020 via Trove.
  5. "LADY ELEANOR SMITH". The Age . Victoria, Australia. 15 August 1953. p. 14. Retrieved 14 June 2020 via Trove.
  6. "Jean Kent Star of "Caravan"". Glen Innes Examiner . New South Wales, Australia. 25 February 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 14 June 2020 via Trove.
  7. Brian MacFarlane "Price, Dennis (1915-1973)", BFI screenonline, reprinted from MacFarlane (ed.) Encyclopaedia of British Cinema, London: Methuen/BFI, 2003, p.534
  8. C.A. LEJEUNE (24 June 1945). "BUSY BRITONS: Two Down and One to Go". New York Times. p. 27.
  9. "Menuhin music in British film". The Sun . No. 2201. Sydney. 17 June 1945. p. 3 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE SUNDAY SUN WEEK END MAGAZINE). Retrieved 27 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Divorce Spotlight". The Sun (LATE FINAL EXTRA ed.). New South Wales, Australia. 26 July 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 14 June 2020 via Trove.
  11. "FILM CABLE FROM LONDON". The Sunday Times . Perth. 17 March 1946. p. 13 Supplement: The Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 2 February 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  12. Vagg, Stephen (29 January 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.
  13. "LADY ELEANOR SMITH'S DEATH". The Advocate . Melbourne. 21 November 1945. p. 18. Retrieved 14 June 2020 via Trove.
  14. "Britain's Best Films". The Sunday Times . Perth. 16 February 1947. p. 12 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE SUNDAY TIMES. Retrieved 2 February 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  15. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p209
  16. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32, no. 3. p. 258.
  17. "Hollywood Sneaks In 15 Films on '25 Best' List of Arty Britain". The Washington Post. 15 January 1947. p. 2.
  18. Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 232.
  19. A.. W. (21 April 1949). "Movie Review – Caravan – Meredith Documentary, 'A Yank Comes Back,' at Symphony – 'Caravan' at Beacon". NY Times. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  20. "Caravan Review". Movies.tvguide.com. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  21. Anonymous (2003). "CARAVAN". Film History. Vol. 15, no. 3. Sydney. p. 289.