The Baron of Arizona

The Baron of ArizonaThrough an odd series of coincidences the other day, I ended up watching Sam Fuller’s excellent 1950 film The Baron of Arizona — a movie that I’d never even heard of until a couple weeks ago. The movie stars Vincent Price as the “baron” in the title, and Price really shows off his acting skills as opposed to his ability to vamp with that incredible voice.

But it is the story itself which is fascinating. The movie is based on the real-life exploits conman James Reavis, who went to fairly elaborate lengths to try to establish a false title to pretty much all of Arizona (under the treaty that gave Arizona to the United States, the U.S. had to recognize Spanish land grants).

Price’s Reavis is a heavily romanticized version of the real Reavis, and the ending is a little too typically 1950s in having everything wrapped up very neatly and creepily romantically. The real Reavis apparently became a drifter for the last couple decades of his life after being exposed as a fraud.

The Baron of Arizona is certainly not some unheralded masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but its a fairly decent, tight film that is occasionally captivating.