The Baron of Arizona (1950)

96-97 mins | Drama | 4 March 1950

Director:

Samuel Fuller

Writer:

Samuel Fuller

Producer:

Carl K. Hittleman

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Editor:

Arthur Hilton

Production Designer:

F. Paul Sylos

Production Company:

Deputy Corp.
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HISTORY

Onscreen credits note that "the title of this Motion Picture appeared on an article published by: The American Weekly." According to a 30 Aug 1949 HR news item, writer/director Samuel Fuller wrote a novel based on his research for the film, which he planned to publish following the picture's completion. James Addison Reavis was born in Missouri in 1843, and as depicted in the film, was found guilty of attempting to steal a major portion of Arizona. He served two years in a federal penitentiary and paid a fine of $5,000. He died in 1914. According to HR, the film was shot on location in Florence, AZ. According to a 24 Oct 1949 HR news item, a federal lawsuit was filed by producer-director Sam White against Hearst Publishing Co., publishers of The American Weekly, over "alleged plagiarism of material later sold by the Hearst firm for the basis of [the film]." The report notes that the plagiarized article was originally published in a 1945 issue of True, and the disposition of the suit is not known. According to a 14 Feb 1950 HR news item, the studio arranged for a special screening of the film for Arizona's governor Dan E. Garvey, in conjunction with the 38th anniversary of the state's admission into the Union. Modern sources include the following actors in the cast: Stuart Holmes, Stanley Price, Sam Flint and Richard Cramer. A modern source notes that a short called The Baron of Arizona was produced for television in 1956. ...

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Onscreen credits note that "the title of this Motion Picture appeared on an article published by: The American Weekly." According to a 30 Aug 1949 HR news item, writer/director Samuel Fuller wrote a novel based on his research for the film, which he planned to publish following the picture's completion. James Addison Reavis was born in Missouri in 1843, and as depicted in the film, was found guilty of attempting to steal a major portion of Arizona. He served two years in a federal penitentiary and paid a fine of $5,000. He died in 1914. According to HR, the film was shot on location in Florence, AZ. According to a 24 Oct 1949 HR news item, a federal lawsuit was filed by producer-director Sam White against Hearst Publishing Co., publishers of The American Weekly, over "alleged plagiarism of material later sold by the Hearst firm for the basis of [the film]." The report notes that the plagiarized article was originally published in a 1945 issue of True, and the disposition of the suit is not known. According to a 14 Feb 1950 HR news item, the studio arranged for a special screening of the film for Arizona's governor Dan E. Garvey, in conjunction with the 38th anniversary of the state's admission into the Union. Modern sources include the following actors in the cast: Stuart Holmes, Stanley Price, Sam Flint and Richard Cramer. A modern source notes that a short called The Baron of Arizona was produced for television in 1956.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Feb 1950
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1950
p. 4
Film Daily
14 Feb 1950
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1949
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 1949
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1949
p. 13
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1949
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1949
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1949
p. 18
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1950
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1950
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 1950
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1950
p. 10
Los Angeles Daily News
3 Mar 1950
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Feb 1950
p. 198
New York Times
23 Jun 1950
p. 29
Variety
15 Feb 1950
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec asst
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Curt Fetters
Cam op
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Ray Robinson
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd eff
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Don Steward
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Vernon Murdoch
Makeup
Loretta Franzel
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the article "The Baron of Arizona" by Homer Croy in American Weekly (Jan 1949).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Samuel Fuller's The Baron of Arizona
Release Date:
4 March 1950
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Phoenix, AZ: 1 Mar 1950
Production Date:
late Oct--late Nov 1949 at Nassour Studios
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Deputy Corp.
12 February 1950
LP2925
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96-97
Length(in feet):
8,677 , 8,709
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14333
SYNOPSIS

In 1912, during a party at the governor's mansion to celebrate Arizona's admission to the Union, John Griff, an employee of the Department of the Interior, tells the story of the notorious James Addison Reavis, a clerk working at the land office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who almost "stole" Arizona: In 1872, Reavis visits the home of Pepito Alvarez, a Mexican living in Phoenix. After telling Pepito that he works in the federal land office, Reavis inquires about Sofia, an infant whom Reavis left with Pepito some years previous. When Reavis meets Sofia, now a shy young girl, he tells her that he is going to bring her to live with him in Santa Fe. Reavis, who is plotting to turn himself into a phony baron, wants Sofia as his baroness and hires governess Loma Morales to school her in proper etiquette. In the meantime, Reavis spends long hours chiseling his forged land grant into a stone tablet which he will use to establish the claim of his fictitious "first baron of Arizona," Miguel de Peralta. Later, Reavis purchases some headstones to establish the births and deaths of Sofia's "parents" and then sails to Europe to complete the forgery. In Spain, he joins a monastery at which the original land grant book of King Ferdinand VI is kept. Taking the name Brother Anthony, Reavis waits three years for an opportunity to be left alone in the library so that he can alter the grants record book, giving his baron the territory of Arizona. During this time, Reavis learns from the monastery's head, Father Guardian, that a second copy of the book is kept at ...

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In 1912, during a party at the governor's mansion to celebrate Arizona's admission to the Union, John Griff, an employee of the Department of the Interior, tells the story of the notorious James Addison Reavis, a clerk working at the land office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who almost "stole" Arizona: In 1872, Reavis visits the home of Pepito Alvarez, a Mexican living in Phoenix. After telling Pepito that he works in the federal land office, Reavis inquires about Sofia, an infant whom Reavis left with Pepito some years previous. When Reavis meets Sofia, now a shy young girl, he tells her that he is going to bring her to live with him in Santa Fe. Reavis, who is plotting to turn himself into a phony baron, wants Sofia as his baroness and hires governess Loma Morales to school her in proper etiquette. In the meantime, Reavis spends long hours chiseling his forged land grant into a stone tablet which he will use to establish the claim of his fictitious "first baron of Arizona," Miguel de Peralta. Later, Reavis purchases some headstones to establish the births and deaths of Sofia's "parents" and then sails to Europe to complete the forgery. In Spain, he joins a monastery at which the original land grant book of King Ferdinand VI is kept. Taking the name Brother Anthony, Reavis waits three years for an opportunity to be left alone in the library so that he can alter the grants record book, giving his baron the territory of Arizona. During this time, Reavis learns from the monastery's head, Father Guardian, that a second copy of the book is kept at the Madrid castle of the Marquis de Santella. When Reavis is finally able to commit the forgery, he is caught by Father Guardian and forced to flee. Reavis steals a horse-driven cart, but it overturns along the winding monastery road. He is rescued by a band of gypsies, then travels to Madrid, and after befriending the Marquesa, convinces her to invite him to the castle. There, Reavis alters the entry in Santella's book, returns to Arizona, marries Sofia and claims Arizona. Suspecting forgery, the surveyor general, Miller, investigates the claim, which is validated by the discovery of the tablets. When Reavis begins evicting the residents of Arizona, Griff, an expert in the art of forgery, is consulted. After the local newspaper criticizes Reavis, a displaced landowner, Tom Lansing, firebombs his office in town. Reavis then rejects a government offer to buy the territory for $25,000,000, and he and Sofia are summoned to federal court to defend their claim. Griff states that he cannot prove that Reavis' claim is false, but later, Pepito tells Reavis that he plans to break his silence and tell Griff about Sofia's real parents, who were Indians. Reavis attempts to flee the country, but Griff arranges for an immediate local trial. After Pepito is shot by an angry mob, Reavis is nearly lynched, but saves himself by reminding the displaced landowners that they need his testimony in order to reclaim their land. Years later, when Reavis is released from prison, he is surprised to see his faithful wife, a now recovered Pepito and Loma waiting to take him home.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.