Lights, Camera, Action

In 1939, Columbia Pictures executives agreed with director Wesley Ruggles that an undeveloped desert site west of Tucson was the perfect location in which to film the big-budget adaption of Clarence Budington “Bud” Kelland’s novel Arizona. The film was shot entirely on location with a crew of 250 and an all-star cast, including Jean Arthur, William Holden and Edgar Buchanan. The production company spared no expense to ensure realism, including the use of 150 oxen, 500 head of cattle, innumerable horses and even stray dogs. The shooting schedule began in April and ended in late July, but the director and studio honchos had not calculated for the delays caused by the summer heat so the picture went over-budget, costing $2 million to produce. While the movie lost money after its release in 1940, it was re-released in glorious black and white on its 75th anniversary, and is a favorite of Western cinephiles for both its realism and its seminal importance to filmmaking at Old Tucson and in Arizona after World War II.

– Courtesy Columbia Pictures –

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