The Baron of Arizona
|The Baron of Arizona|
|Directed by||Samuel Fuller|
|Produced by||Carl Hittleman|
Robert L. Lippert
|Screenplay by||Samuel Fuller|
|Music by||Paul Dunlap|
|Cinematography||James Wong Howe|
|Edited by||Arthur Hilton|
|Distributed by||Lippert Pictures|
The film concerns a master forger's attempted use of false documents to lay claim to the territory of Arizona late in the 19th century. It is based on the case of James Reavis, whose scheme came close to success, but many of the film's details are fictionalized.
The notorious attempt by swindler James Reavis to claim the entire territory of Arizona as his own before it was granted statehood in 1912 is recounted years later by John Griff, who works for the Department of the Interior.
In 1872, Reavis went to great lengths to forge documents in Spain and create the illusion that he had a legal right to claim all of Arizona his own. He began by seeking out Pepito Alvarez to inquire about Sofia, an infant abandoned by Reavis many years before.
Reavis decides to take Sofia home with him, hire governess Loma Morales to refine her, then marry her, using fabricated proof that identifies Sofia as the rightful "baroness" of Arizona. A suspicious U.S. government, unable to disprove Reavis' claim, offers him $25 million for the rights to the land. He declines.
The surveyor general, Miller, is sure Reavis has somehow doctored the documents. He brings in Griff, an expert on forgery. In the meantime, Reavis orders settlers and families off "his" land. A displaced rancher, Lansing, tosses a bomb into Reavis' office. It still does not discourage him, so Pepito finally threatens to reveal that Sofia's parents were not Spanish land barons at all, but native Indians.
Reavis is revealed as a charlatan. He manages to talk his way out of a lynching, but ends up behind bars. After serving time, he is released and reunited with Sofia ala horse carriage in the rain.
- Vincent Price as James Reavis
- Ellen Drew as Sofia
- Vladimir Sokoloff as Pepito
- Beulah Bondi as Loma
- Reed Hadley as Griff
- Robert Barrat as Judge (as Robert H. Barrat)
- Robin Short as Lansing
- Tina Pine as Rita (as Tina Rome)
- Karen Kester as Sofia as a child
- Margia Dean as the Marquesa
- Jonathan Hale as the Governor
- Edward Keane as Miller
- Barbara Woodell as Mrs. Lansing
- I. Stanford Jolley as Mr. Richardson
- Fred Kohler Jr. as Demmings
- Tristram Coffin as McCleary
- Gene Roth as Father Guardian
- Angelo Rossitto as Angie – Gypsy (as Angelo Rosito)
- Ed East as Hank
- Joseph J. Greene as Mr. Gunther (as Joe Greene)
Production and release
Executive producer Robert L. Lippert allocated $100,000 to play the lead. Filming began August 20, 1949. Lippert spent $100,000 to promote the film. The film was shot in 15 days and a print is preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.
- Goodman, Ezra (February 28, 1965). "Low-Budget Movies With POW!; Most fans never heard of director Sam Fuller, but to some film buffs he has real class". New York Times.
- From the Eclipse Shelf: The Baron of Arizona-Criterion Collection
- "Film Tells of Arizona Baron". Wichita Daily Times. March 26, 1950.
- "'WEAKER' SEX LAUGHS LAST". Los Angeles Times. Jul 7, 1949. ProQuest 165943266.
- The Baron of Arizona (1950)-The Hunt for Edward D. Wood, Jr