Arizona (1940 film)

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Arizona 1940.jpg
Theatrical release poster.
Directed by Wesley Ruggles
Produced by Wesley Ruggles
Written by Claude Binyon
Based on Arizona
1939 novel
by Clarence Budington Kelland
Starring Jean Arthur
William Holden
Warren William
Music by Stephen Foster
Victor Young
Cinematography Fayte Browne
Harry Hallenberger
Edited by William A. Lyon
Otto Meyer
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 25, 1940 (1940-12-25)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Arizona is a 1940 American Western film starring Jean Arthur, William Holden and Warren William and the 4th remake of the 1913 film Arizona. It was directed by Wesley Ruggles.

Victor Young was nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score, while Lionel Banks and Robert Peterson were considered for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, Black-and-White.[1]


Life in the Arizona Territory in early 1861 is hard, but Phoebe Titus (Jean Arthur), the only American woman in the pioneering community of Tucson, is up to the challenge. She catches the eye of Peter Muncie (William Holden), a handsome young man with a wagon train passing through on its way to California. He begins courting her but tells her he is not ready to settle down in one spot. As a possible solution, Phoebe offers him a job heading a new freight company she has just formed with store owner Solomon Warner (Paul Harvey). He, however, is determined to see California, but promises to return when his wanderlust is satisfied.

Phoebe is more than a match for freight competitor Lazarus Ward (Porter Hall). However, a dandy named Jefferson Carteret (Warren William) shows up just as the American Civil War breaks out. He helps her persuade wavering residents to stay after the Union garrison pulls out, leaving them without protection against the Indians. Carteret pretends to be Phoebe's friend, but coerces Ward into making him a secret partner.

The treacherous pair try every underhanded way they can to destroy her business. They bribe Indian chief Mano with guns to attack her wagons. The Confederates gain the (temporary) allegiance of the community by sending some troops, but they are soon recalled east. Union troops of the California Column, with Peter among them as a sergeant, return in April 1862 just as Tucson's situation becomes desperate. He helps Phoebe secure a lucrative army freight contract, but Carteret has Ward slander her to the Union commander, claiming that she supplied ammunition for the departed Confederates. Peter and Phoebe get the truth out of Ward at gunpoint and regain the contract. Soon after, Peter's enlistment expires.

Phoebe persuades Peter to go to Nebraska to buy cattle for the ranch she has always dreamed of owning. She has already purchased a great deal of land cheaply from those who lost heart because of the Indian troubles and moved on. However, the $15,000 paid her by the army is stolen by Carteret's men disguised as Mexican bandits. Carteret then offers to make her a loan, with her business and land as security. She accepts. Six months later, Carteret tells Phoebe that her loan comes due the next day.

However, Peter is half a day away with their herd. Carteret gets the Indians to attack but Peter and his men are able to fight them off. Peter gets a confession from one of Carteret's men, but Carteret kills the henchman after he shoots Ward in the back to rid himself of the last incriminating loose end. The entire town celebrates as Phoebe and Peter get married. Then he has her wait for him in Solomon's store while he goes to settle accounts with Carteret. Shots are heard, then a relieved Phoebe takes her slightly wounded new husband home.



Arizona was filmed on a set located just outside the city of Tucson in the Sonoran Desert. After filming, it lay dormant for a few years during World War II, but was revived and made into a full studio after the war.[2] The studio continues today as Old Tucson Studios.


  1. ^ "NY Times: Arizona". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  2. ^ ' TUCSON': MOVIE MECCA: Noted Arizona Screen 'Set' Attracts 'Badlanders' Troupe and Tourists By JOHN H. ROTHWELLTUCSON, ARIZ.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Mar 1958: X7

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