Caravan (1946)

April 23rd, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Arthur Crabtree | Cast: Stewart Granger, Jean Kent, Dennis Price, Anne Crawford | UK drama 117’

In his memoirs Stewart Granger – who we’re here supposed to believe is a half-Spanish struggling author, “Handsome like a matador” – doesn’t even mention this film, which looks artificial even for a Gainsborough melodrama with its exteriors of immobile clouds and cute model boats in the seaboard scenes. But to the chagrin of the ladies and gentlemen of the press it proved critic-proof at the box office the year it was released and was a huge hit.

Proudly declaring itself “From the famous novel by Lady Eleanor Smith”, it might not be as funny as Madonna of the Seven Moons but there are indications that some of the laughs are this time intentional in Robert Helpmann’s performance, and odd moments in Halford Hyden’s busy score; which like the film doesn’t let up for two hours of passion, gypsies, quicksand, a horsewhipping and much else besides. All enhanced by director Arthur Crabtree’s gracefully gliding camera.

When not dancing the flamenco (which she does a lot) Jean Kent as a passionate young señorita, skinny-dips wearing nothing but full makeup and carefully permed hair; while in addition to Dennis Price and Robert Helpmann as baddies in enormous hats and sideburns, the supporting cast also includes ‘Peter’ Murray (at 95 probably the only cast member still with us) as a gypsy wearing an enormous earring. @RichardChatten

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