The Conquerors (1932 film)

The Conquerors is a 1932 American pre-Code Western film that spans several generations in a family that lives through a series of financial crisis with faith in the future of the country. It was directed by William A. Wellman, and stars Richard Dix and Ann Harding as a young couple who move from New York City to the American West and build a banking empire.

The Conquerors
Directed byWilliam Wellman
Produced byDavid O. Selznick
Written byRobert Lord
Story byHoward Estabrook
StarringRichard Dix
Ann Harding
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byWilliam Hamilton
Production
company
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • November 18, 1932 (1932-11-18)
Running time
80-86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$619,000[1]
Box office$528,000[1]

Plot

The film begins in a prospering New York City in 1873. Lowly bank clerk Roger Standish is fired from his job after he is caught courting Caroline Ogden, the daughter of the bank’s president. The failure of Ogden’s bank in the Panic of 1873 brings about her father’s financial collapse and death. Undismayed, Caroline offers to marry Roger and proposes that they travel west in search of new opportunities.

While traveling through Nebraska on a raft, Roger is shot when the Slade gang robs them. He is taken to the nearby town of Fort Allen, where the town's doctor, Dan L. Blake operstes successfully. Although he is a drunkard, he proves competent, washing his hands and instruments in alcohol. His wife, Matilda, runs the hotel and welcomes Caroline like a member of the family. Months later, the same bandits attack the town. Roger rallies the community against them, but falls off his horse because he is still too week; the posse continues on without him and hangs the entire gang at once. Caroline is inspired to open a bank there. With the help of the Blakes, Standish Bank is an instant success, and on opening day Caroline gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl.

As Fort Allen prospers, the possibility of being bypassed by the railroad threatens its growth. Caroline discovers that the railroad’s president was a friend of her father, and charms him by offering to prepare a favorite sweetbread recipe from DelMonico’s restaurant in New York City. The next scene is opening day of the railroad station, but the arrival of the first train is horribly marred. Their son is riding with Doc Blake in a buggy when the whistle blast from the incoming train throws the team of horses—who have never seen or heard a train— into a wild panic. They gallop down the road alongside the track and then swerve across it. The buggy is smashed upside down on the track in the path of the oncoming train, and the little boy is pinned underneath it. Doc struggles to get him free; the braking train kills the child and the man trying to save him. Though the family mourns their loss, Roger and Caroline’s daughter, Frances grows into a beautiful young woman and marries Warren Lennox, one of the employees in Standish's bank.

The prosperous times come to an end with the depression of the 1890s. Overextended because of poor judgement by their son-in-law, the Standish National Bank is forced to close because of a run on its deposits. Caroline tells Standish they have lived through this before. Lennox commits suicide just as his son and Caroline and Roger’s grandchild, Roger Standish Lennox, is born. The young boy grows up in a world of technological marvels, and after America’s entry into World War I joins the Lafayette Escadrille and becomes a decorated fighter pilot. While watching him in a victory parade after the Armistice, Caroline collapses and dies.

The decade that follows is one of great growth. The Standish National Bank, having survived the hard times of the 1890s, is thriving once again under Lennox’s management. His grandfather observes that the country is getting ahead of itself again, like a growing boy who busts his britches every once in a while. When the stock market crash of 1929 brings the good times to an end, Lennox approaches the elderly Standish and asks him to sign papers dissolving his $5 million trust fund so that Lennox can put the money into the bank. As Standish signs the papers, Lennox expresses his optimism that the country will recover and reach new heights, filling his grandfather with pride at both Lennox’s sense of responsibility and his faith in America’s future.

Reception

According to RKO records, the film recorded a loss of $230,000.[1]

Cast

Trivia

Richard Dix plays the main character Roger Standish and late in the film plays the part of Standish's grown grandson. [2]

References

  1. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  2. The Conquerors (1932 film)#Trivia
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