In Old Arizona (1928) Review

In Old Arizona (1928) Director: Irving Cummings

★★★☆☆

Nominated for Best Picture, In Old Arizona was based on the story “Caballero’s Way” by O. Henry. It was technically the first “talkie” western film. Its many filming locations included Zion National Park in Utah, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and the Mojave Desert. Unfortunately the surviving sound quality in the film is poor at best, however there are several beautiful scenes of the expansive geography of the desert.

In Old Arizona tells the story of the Cisco Kid, a noble desert robber a la Robin Hood, who evades capture by Sergeant Dunn. The Cisco Kid double crosses the woman he loves and orchestrates a plan that will lead to her death in the end. Curiously, the Cisco Kid escapes and the film ends with his lover’s death, rather than a standard Hollywood formulaic ending. There are also several notable tropes featured here including the caricature of the “singing cowboy.” Raoul Walsh was set to star in this film however he experienced a car accident when a jackrabbit suddenly jumped through his windshield and cost him an eye. His acting career slowed after this incident and he wore an eye patch from then onward. While I’m glad I was able to see this film, I would not soon revisit it.

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