CARAVANS - Hybla Twins, Landover Mall and Herndon Twins.
Label this one Costume Epic, Grade B, Noble Savage variety - Bedouin-style.
That means bundle-laden camels moving across the desert, as opposed to bundle-laden ponies moving across the prairie or bundle-laden pygmies moving across the jungle. But it's the old "my people must be free to wander" theme teamed with a Tarzanian twist; the White Woman who falls for said Noble Savage and won't go home to civilization.
Set down in an indeterminate Eastern country (actually filmed in Iran), the White Woman, played with Breck Girl blandness by Jennifer O'Neill, runs off to become chieftain Anthony Quinn's woman and romp with his simple, happy tribe. This gives Quinn the chance to indulge again in his earthy "Zorba" posturing while O'Neill parades around in outfits that look like leftovers from Bloomingdale's India campaign. Unfortunately, neither does much acting.
As is par for these plots, evil civilization can't let these simple folk be. The American government dispatches poor Michael Sarrazin, who's certainly hit hard times since "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," to fetch her back. Naturally, she won't be fetched. But Sarrazin too, gets happy feet and joins the caravan. Then we are subjected to interminable on-the-road footage meant to endear these nomads to us so we sympathize with their plight. A subplot about gun-smuggling and O'Neill's enraged military dictator-type husband are dubious attempts at drama. But these shopworn devices just compound the cliche amalgam.
"What are you doing here?" O'Neill asks Sarrazin when he just happens to be captured in the desert by the right tribe."The embassy sent me." "Don't they have anything better to do?" she asks.