Arizona (1940)

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Original title Arizona
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1940
length 121 minutes
Director Wesley Ruggles for
Columbia Pictures
script Claude Binyon
production Wesley Ruggles
music Victor Young
camera Fayte Browne
cut Otto Meyer
William A. Lyon

Arizona is a 1940 western from Columbia Pictures starring Jean Arthur . It was directed by Wesley Ruggles , who was filming the Oscar-winning Western Cimarron in 1931 .


By 1860, Phoebe Titus had the dream of running the largest ranch in Arizona . Her ambition collides with the plans of the corrupt Lazarus Ward, who rules the city of Tucson and operates the only freight company in the area. In her struggle for equality and a place in society, Phoebe is supported by Peter Muncie, a young adventurer. After several setbacks, the two manage not only to get married, but also to fulfill Phoebe's dream of a huge herd of cattle.


Since the middle of the decade, westerns had become increasingly popular again with cinema audiences, and at the latest since the success of Stagecoach in 1939, almost all studios were producing stories from the Wild West again with lavish budgets and top names starring. Within a short time went Cecil B. DeMille's Union Pacific for Paramount Pictures with the stars Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck , Jesse James with Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda for 20th Century Fox and Dodge City with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland for Warner Brothers at the start .

Columbia Pictures didn't want to stand outside the trend, and studio boss Harry Cohn commissioned a $ 1,600,000 budget in mid-1939 for the dramatic portrayal of the early days of Arizona . The film was to be the first Columbia production to be shot in Technicolor and exclusively on location. The director took Wesley Ruggles , well versed in the genre after 1931 already which won the Oscar for Best Picture Western Cimarron had turned. Jean Arthur, who had turned down the offer to play in Union Pacific immediately before, was intended for the female lead . Ruggles planned to put her at the side of Gary Cooper , with whom Arthur had already made two successful films in 1936. But the outbreak of war in Europe led to filming being stopped in autumn. The studio recalculated the costs and found that the fee was too high for Cooper. Joel McCrea was also turned down because he asked for too much money. In the end, the studio decided to restart filming in mid-1940 and cast the male lead with their own contract actor William Holden . Holden had only recently become known for his appearance in Golden Boy . To keep costs under control, plans to shoot Arizona in color were also dropped .

The shooting was plagued by innumerable breakdowns and technical problems that escalated production costs. Sandstorms completely paralyzed filming for 18 days, and Wesley Ruggles fell ill too. In the end, the studio invested just over $ 2,000,000 that was never returned at the box office.


At the Academy Awards in 1941 , the film received nominations in the following categories:

  • Best Production Design (black and white film) - Lionel Banks, Robert Peterson
  • Best Original Score - Victor Young

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