Caravan to Vaccarès (film)

Caravan to Vaccarès is a 1974 British-French action film directed by Geoffrey Reeve and starring David Birney, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Lonsdale.[1] It was loosely based on the novel Caravan to Vaccarès by Alistair MacLean.

Caravan to Vaccarès
Caravan to Vaccares poster.jpg
Original cinema poster
Directed byGeoffrey Reeve
Produced byGeoffrey Reeve
Richard Morris-Adams
George Davis
Written byPaul Wheeler
Joseph Forest
Based onnovel by Alistair MacLean
StarringDavid Birney
Charlotte Rampling
Michael Lonsdale
Music byStanley Myers
CinematographyFred Tammes
Edited byRobert Morgan
Geoffrey Reeve Productions
Societe Nouvelle Prodis
Distributed byRank Film Distributors (UK)
20th Century Fox (USA)
Release date
  • 6 August 1974 (1974-08-06)
Running time
98 minutes (theatrical release)
CountriesUnited Kingdom


In the south of France, a mysterious assassin shoots one man, then another.

A wandering young American adventurer, Bowman (David Birney), meets a pretty young British photographer, Lila (Charlotte Rampling) when she hitches a ride. They run into the assassin while helping a couple who have broken down by the side of the road.

When they arrive in town they meet a French duke (Michel Lonsdale) who invites them to dinner. David reveals that the duke had met him in Paris and offered him a job for $3,000 and a return ticket to New York but he doesn't know what for. He is driving a car lent by the duke. That night a man breaks into a place where they are staying but Bowman fights him off.

The duke appears and hires Bowman to smuggle a Hungarian scientist (Michael Bryan) out of France to the United States. Bowman is reluctant but the duke says if he won't do it he will report the car as being stolen.

The scientist escaped the Iron Curtain by hiding with a caravan of gypsies, but is being pursued by an unscrupulous gang bent on capturing him for sale to the highest bidder.

A woman who helps Bowman is murdered at a bull fight. She turns out to be the Duc's daughter.

Lila and the scientist are kidnapped, but Borman rescues them. Lila and Bowman sleep together.

Bowman is driving the scientist to safety in a car when a helicopter chases after them. The helicopter drives the car off the road. It seems the scientist has fallen into quicksand; a rope is dropped from the helicopter to retrieve him. However it turns out the man is Bowman in disguise. He overpowers one of the men in the helicopter then is dropped into a bull ring. Bowman defeats a bull fighter and is about to be killed by a charging bull but is rescued when the Duc shoots it dead.

The Duc farewells Bowman and Lila at the airport with the scientist.



The story was originally written as a screenplay[2] before being turned into a novel.

The film was shot on location in the Camargue. The finale, where David Birney is dropped into a bull ring from a helicopter, was filmed last.[3]


Princess Anne Kidnap AttemptEdit

The film had a royal premiere at the Odeon in Leicester Square honour of the Save the Children Fund. It was attended by Princess Anne and her then-husband Mark Phillips, but not MacLean who refused to attend.[citation needed] They were protected by her bodyguard Inspector James Beaton. It was Beaton's return to duty after having been wounded during a kidnapping attempted on the princess.[4][5]


The Guardian praised Rampling's beauty but said Birney "is about as expressive as a constipated owl" and that the film had "rather plastic romance and enough cinematic action to fill half a bucket with stuntmen's sweat."[6]


  1. ^ "Caravan to Vaccarès". London: British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  2. ^ The Man who Knows where the Action is. Alistair MacLean and Godfrey Smith. The Sunday Times (London, England), Sunday, 18 January 1970; pg. 37[S]; Issue 7651
  3. ^ Cater, Bill, and Allan Hall. "Beware of the stand-in." Sunday Times [London, England] 28 July 1974: 28. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 December 2015.
  4. ^ Mahone Won't Fail—He's Made a C in Jail Parrott, Jennings. Los Angeles Times 9 August 1974: a2.
  5. ^ "Court Circular." Times [London, England] 9 August 1974: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 December 2015.
  6. ^ City of all the angles: Derek Malcolm reviews new films Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian (1959–2003) [London (UK)] 9 August 1974: 8.

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