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CONQUERORS, THE (director: William Wellman; screenwriters: Robert Lord/story by Howard Estabrook; cinematographer: Edward Cronjager; editor: William Hamilton; music: Max Steiner; cast: Richard Dix (Roger Standish), Ann Harding (Caroline Standish), Edna May Oliver (Matilda Blake), Guy Kibbee (Dr. Daniel Blake), Julie Haydon (Frances Standish Lennox), Donald Cook (Warren Lennox), Walter Walker (Mr. Ogden), Elizabeth Patterson (Landlady in New York); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David O. Selznick; RKO; 1932)
The outstanding cast struggles with the limited script.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The pic is a rip-off of Edna Ferber’s Cimarron. William Wellman (“Wings”/”Night Nurse”/”The Ox-Bow Incident”) chronicles a banking family from the 1870s to the 1930s, who move from New York to Nebraska and despite the tough battles ultimately establish an American banking dynasty. It’s based on a story by Howard Estabrook (he wrote the script for “Cimarron”) and is written by Robert Lord. The outstanding cast struggles with the limited script.

During the economic prosperity of 1873 humble New York bank clerk Roger Standish (Richard Dix) courts the pretty Caroline Ogden (Ann Harding), his stodgy boss’s daughter. When caught by her dad (Walter Walker) kissing Caroline in the garden of her home, Roger is fired and told not to see Caroline again.

Soon after, a depression hits. This causes the Ogden bank to close. Bankrupt and despondent, Ogden dies. The broke Caroline marries Roger and the happy newlyweds leave New York to start fresh out West.In Nebraska, they’re ambushed by outlaws and the wounded Roger is taken to Fort Allen to recover. Roger is treated by Dr. Daniel Blake (Guy Kibbee), an alcoholic but competent physician.The couple are further helped by the tough but generous Matilda (Edna May Oliver), Daniel’s wife, who runs the town hotel. The pregnant Caroline scrubs the hotel floors to earn money. When the dangerous gang strikes again, Roger incites the townspeople to successfully go after the outlaws. Then Caroline urges hubby to start a bank, and the Standish Bank is born.

Years laterRoger and Caroline persuade a transcontinental railroad company to run their line through Fort Allen. The couple endure both joys and hardships along the way to the top, and it takes us up to the Depression-era. As a morale booster, that Americans can lick the Depression as they did before, it has Roger’s grandson, Roger Lennox (Richard Dix), a World War I aviation hero, save the bank from panic after the stock market crash of 1929 by putting up his inheritance to restore confidence in the bank.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”