Cast & Crew
During the Civil War, in Missouri, while preparing a caravan en route to California, frontier scouts Bill Jackson and Jim Bridger connive the drunken town marshal to release fellow scout Clint Belmet by coercing Felice, an orphan French girl, to pose as his bride. That night, as the caravan camps, the pioneers perform a ritual of chivalry on the "newlyweds" and Clint tries to coerce Felice into consummating the "marriage," but she rebuffs him. Next the caravan comes upon a stagecoach that has recently been ambushed and learns that the U.S. Cavalry has deserted its posts on the plains to join General Grant's army, leaving travellers unprotected. Despite the constant Indian menace, the settlers reach the Rocky Mountains, where the scouts find a deer killed with an arrow and begin to suspect Lee Murdock, the only survivor of an earlier Indian massacre, of siding with the Indians. Meanwhile, Felice falls in love with Clint, but her talk of home and marriage sends him into the woods alone, insisting he will always be a scout. There Clint spies Murdock conspiring with the Indians and, when Jim and Bill advise him to settle down because the railroad will make scouts obsolete, he confesses his love for Felice. As the three head back to camp, they hear Indians approaching and run to warn the settlers, who have begun crossing the river. As women load guns, each family works to defend itself, while Jim and Bill compete to see who can kill the most Indians. When Murdock shoots Jim, Bill kills Murdock before dying himself from an arrow. Clint then ignites the kerosene wagon in the middle of the river and the Indians retreat. The caravan safely arrives in California and Clint and Felice marry.
E. Alyn Warren
Zane Grey's novel was serialized in Country Gentleman (Nov 1928-March 1929). An ad for this film stated, "More money, time and talent lavished on this picture than any other on Paramount's great 1930-31 program!" Early scripts in the Paramount Script Collection at the AMPAS Library list Clifford Dempsey (Couch), Blanche Friderici (Jane) and Stanley Fields (Lee Murdock) in the cast, although they were later replaced. The first script was written by Arthur Caesar, although apparently none of his work was used in the final screenplay. Early scripts list Louis D. Lighton as production supervisor, although contemporary sources do not confirm his work on the production. The title card for this film was changed to Blazing Arrows for television release, although all contemporary sources verify its original title as Fighting Caravans. Modern credits in the opening frames of the television release print list Sid Saylor in the cast, but he is not in the cast credits from the original print that follow. A modern source lists Saylor's character name as "Charlie" and lists the following additional character names for actors in the cast: James Farley (Amos), James Marcus (The Blacksmith), Donald MacKenzie (Gus) and E. Alyn Warren (Barlow). In addition, modern sources list the following cast members: Jane Darwell (Pioneer woman), Irving Bacon (Barfly), Harry Semels (Brawler), Iron Eyes Cody (Indian After Firewater), Merrill McCormick, Tiny Sandford and Chief Big Tree. According to a modern source, portions of this film were shot in Sonora, CA. This film was remade by Paramount in 1934 as Wagon Wheels (see below). According to a modern source, so much footage was shot for Fighting Caravans that enough was left over to provide background shots for the remake.