Caravan to Vaccares (1974)

  • Year: 1974
  • Released: 28 Aug 1974
  • Country: United Kingdom, France
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English, French
  • MPA Rating: PG
  • Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
  • Runtime: 98 min
  • Writer: Alistair MacLean, Paul Wheeler, Joseph Forest
  • Director: Geoffrey Reeve
  • Cast: David Birney, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Lonsdale
  • Keywords: scientist, assassin, photographer, hitchhiker, gypsy,
20% – Audience

Caravan to Vaccares Storyline

American Neil Bowman is traveling through France when he meets British photographer Lila. They are hired by French land owner Duc de Croyter to escort a Hungarian scientist to New York. But they soon realize that the job is not a cushy number, and have to deal with a gang of kidnappers who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the scientist.

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Caravan to Vaccares Movie Reviews

This is a review of the British version

PLEASE NOTE: This is a review of the British version, which runs no less than 98 minutes. Understandably, the movie was cut to 84 minutes in the U.S.A., but this version seems to have disappeared.

SYNOPSIS: An attempt to smuggle an East European scientist into the U.S.A., is hampered by international gangsters.

COMMENT: The popular thriller writer, Alistair MacLean, tackles the Camargue in this one. As might be expected, the action scenes are genuinely exciting. The photography and music score are also most effective, but the film is unfortunately saddled with an unimpressive cast (aside from the lovely Miss Rampling), directed in a monotonous TV style of close-up, after close-up, after close-up. This remarkably dull and ham-fisted approach not only emphasizes the tedious, hokey dialogue, but it also points up and draws audience attention to all the the seams and red herrings in the plot. True, actual locations help to restore a bit of interest, but not enough to capture an audience’s constant attention.

Caravan to Tedium

The last time I saw this was in high school on the last day of term when you were allowed to watch a movie in class. We were looking forward to watching something like the Karate Kid when one of our classmates, Murphy, excitedly whipped out this tape THAT HE HAD BROUGHT IN SPECIALLY – this film, Caravan to Tedium. To our utter dismay our Geography teacher put it on and the class spent a double period thoroughly disenjoying themselves watching this Alastair Maclean snoozefest – all except Murphy that is, who was lapping it up big time. When our class wasn’t collectively daydreaming about shoving Murphy’s face into a vat of pig dirt we endured PG rated thrills and Wednesday afternoon level excitement as Charlotte Rampling and David ‘personality’ Birney run around dodging bullets while attempting to achieve something tiresome. I watched it again today, so the question is, was it better 34 years later? No, not really. Murphy if you’re out there, this unfortunate event may have happened in 1986 but I still haven’t forgiven you for it.

Slightly biased review….

So I was 8 or 9 years old when this was released and even younger when I spent three weeks on-set with my parents and siblings. On-set because my dad was a film lighting technician working as part of the production team. I’m now 52, and watching it again brings back some vivid memories of those days, for example my brother and I taking turns steering an 8-tonne generator lorry around the marshes (sitting on the drivers knee in my case), or staying up late in our rented villa near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer listening to the tales and jokes of the film crew and sitting on benches enjoying the food provided by the mobile catering (not to mention the end of production feast – where I even tasted and liked frogs legs).

Several of the scenes in the film I remember vividly, for example the VW beetle driving through the burning cabin, waiting in a building outside the bull-ring in Arles (it was a real bull-fight, so rightly I wasn’t allowed in) and especially the circus bull-ring at the end where I was sat with my brother and sister on the fence watching as they were filming.

To the film itself, I’d agree it’s not the best Alistair Maclean film, the action stilted, the dialog disjointed and the story has gaps (no worse than a tacky Roger Moore Bond film). But, for when it was made, the camerawork is simply excellent and the acting was by and large ok for a 70’s film (I have seen much worse). I also like the fact that it’s unashamedly bilingual with both French and English dialogue.

So all in all, I think this is an underrated film for the reasons I mention and for me personally, is forever part of my life. Unfortunately this site doesn’t allow you to post photos or else I’d post some production photos as my dad took his camera on many of his jobs.