IMDb > The Baron of Arizona (1950)
The Baron of Arizona
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The Baron of Arizona (1950) More at IMDbPro »


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Down 8% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Samuel Fuller (written by)
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Release Date:
4 March 1950 (USA) See more »
He Stole The State Of Arizona And Gave It To His Bride! See more »
Master swindler James Reavis painstakingly spends years forging documents and land grants that will make his wife and him undisputed owners of the entire state of Arizona. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
90% true, 100% fascinating See more (29 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Vincent Price ... James Addison Reavis 'The Baron'

Ellen Drew ... Sofia de Peralta-Reavis 'The Baroness'
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Pepito

Beulah Bondi ... Loma

Reed Hadley ... Griff
Robert Barrat ... Judge (as Robert H. Barrat)
Robin Short ... Lansing
Tina Pine ... Rita (as Tina Rome)
Karen Kester ... Sofia as a Child

Margia Dean ... Marquesa
Jonathan Hale ... Governor
Edward Keane ... Surveyor General Miller
Barbara Woodell ... Mrs. Carrie Lansing

I. Stanford Jolley ... Mr. Richardson

Fred Kohler Jr. ... Demmings

Tristram Coffin ... McCleary
Gene Roth ... Father Guardian
Angelo Rossitto ... Angie - Gypsy (as Angelo Rosito)
Ed East ... Hank
Joseph J. Greene ... Mr. Gunther (as Joe Greene)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abdullah Abbas ... Indian (uncredited)
Walter Bacon ... Townsman (uncredited)
Ray Beltram ... Townsman (uncredited)
Eumenio Blanco ... Gypsy (uncredited)
Nick Borgani ... Gypsy (uncredited)
Roy Bucko ... Townsman (uncredited)
Wheaton Chambers ... Brother Gregory (uncredited)
Noble 'Kid' Chissell ... Townsman (uncredited)
Richard Cramer ... Townsman Watching Beavis Return to Arizona (uncredited)
Russell Custer ... Townsman (uncredited)
Tex Driscoll ... Townsman (uncredited)
Sam Flint ... Board Member - Department of Interior (uncredited)
Terry Frost ... Morelle - Vigilante (uncredited)
Gil Frye ... Griff's Associate (uncredited)
Elias Gamboa ... Townsman (uncredited)
Israel Garcia ... Townsman (uncredited)
Rudy Germane ... Officer (uncredited)
Kenneth Gibson ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Pat Goldin ... Diminutive Franciscan Monk (uncredited)
Herman Hack ... Guard (uncredited)
Bobbie Hale ... Townsman (uncredited)
Stuart Hall ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Stephen S. Harrison ... Surveyor's Assistant (uncredited)
Al Haskell ... Townsman (uncredited)
Jack Hendricks ... Townsman (uncredited)
Tex Holden ... Townsman (uncredited)
Stuart Holmes ... Man in the Governor's Mansion (uncredited)
Kay Koury ... Townswoman (uncredited)
Billy McCoy ... Townsman (uncredited)
Mathew McCue ... Townsman (uncredited)
Tom McDonough ... Deputy (uncredited)
George Meader ... Hank - Lansing's Father-in-Law (uncredited)
Jack Montgomery ... Townsman (uncredited)
Lew Morphy ... Townsman (uncredited)
Forbes Murray ... Board Member - Department of the Interior (uncredited)
Robert A. O'Neil ... Brother Paul (uncredited)
Adolfo Ornelas ... Mr. Martinez (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Guest at Governor's Mansion (uncredited)
Joe Phillips ... Deputy (uncredited)
Stanley Price ... Mr. Reynolds (uncredited)
Buddy Roosevelt ... Townsman (uncredited)
Frosty Royce ... Deputy (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Townsman (uncredited)
Allen D. Sewall ... Townsman (uncredited)
Sammy Shack ... Townsman (uncredited)
Bert Stevens ... Man at Governor's Mansion (uncredited)
Jack Tornek ... Townsman (uncredited)
Blackie Whiteford ... Townsman (uncredited)
Zacharias Yaconelli ... Greco (uncredited)

Directed by
Samuel Fuller 
Writing credits
Samuel Fuller (written by)

Homer Croy  story (uncredited)

Produced by
Carl K. Hittleman .... producer
Robert L. Lippert .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Paul Dunlap 
Cinematography by
James Wong Howe (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Arthur Hilton (edited by)
Casting by
Yolanda Molinari 
Production Design by
Jack Poplin (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Frank Paul Sylos  (as F. Paul Sylos)
Set Decoration by
Otto Siegel (set decorations) (as Otto Seigel)
Edward R. Robinson (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Loretta Francel .... hair stylist (as Loretta Franzel)
Vern Murdock .... makeup (as Vernon Murdoch)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Frank Fox .... assistant director
Sound Department
Harry Coswick .... sound effects
Garry A. Harris .... sound engineer (as Garry Harris)
Special Effects by
Ray Mercer .... special effects
Donald Steward .... special effects (uncredited)
Chuck Roberson .... stunts (uncredited)
Edward D. Wood Jr. .... stunt double (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Roy Black .... gaffer (uncredited)
Joe Carpenter .... grip (uncredited)
Marty Crail .... still photographer (uncredited)
Curt Fetters .... camera operator (uncredited)
E. Truman Joiner .... key grip (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Alfred Berke .... wardrobe
Kitty Mager .... wardrobe (as Kitty Major)
Music Department
Paul Dunlap .... conductor
Other crew
Murray Lerner .... executive assistant
Robert L. Lippert .... presenter
Millie Winter .... dialogue coach (as Millie Winters)
Dorothy B. Cormack .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
97 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)

Did You Know?

Print preserved by the Museum of Modern Art.See more »
Rita, the Gypsy Dancer:Who are you?
James Addison 'The Baron' Reavis, aka Brother Anthony:A wanderer like Cain looking for a woman of my own.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in (500) Days of Summer (2009)See more »


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28 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
90% true, 100% fascinating, 23 October 2004
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

'The Baron of Arizona' has a title that makes it sound like a Western, especially since it was directed by Sam Fuller. In fact, this is a remarkable and hugely improbable drama, made even more remarkable because much of it is true.

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. James Addison Reavis (1843-1914) was an obscure veteran of the American Civil War (on the losing side) who drifted into the Southwest at the time when whites were settling that region, displacing Amerindians and Mestizos. Thousands of acres were free for the taking by U.S. citizens, but the U.S. government -- under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo -- were determined to honour the existing deeds of Spanish settlers who had arrived during the time of the conquistadores. When Reavis learnt this, he hatched one of the most audacious schemes in the history of real estate: he literally stole the entire Arizona territory.

Carefully stealing 16th- and 17th-century parchments from obscure libraries, and duplicating inks from that period, Reavis forged documents deeding thousands of acres to Miguel de Peralta, a fictitious Spanish grandee. Reavis ingeniously salted these documents into legitimate archives. Among his other gambits, he traveled to Spain and infiltrated a monastery, where he unstitched the bindings of antique books, inserted his forged documents, and restitched the bindings. He invented an entire family history for the Peralta clan, planting fake documents in appropriate places in Arizona, Mexico and Spain ... even carving a message (ostensibly written by Peralta's expedition) onto a boulder in the remote Arizona desert, knowing that other developers would eventually 'discover' this.

As gringo Reavis was unable to pass for a descendant of Peralta, he then found a Mestiza girl in a Mexican orphanage, whom he supplied with (forged) documents allegedly proving her pedigree as the descendant of Miguel de Peralta. Reavis then married this 'heiress' to solidify his claim to the land. Armed with his authentic-looking deeds, Reavis then solicited backers (including William Randolph Hearst's father) to press his claims against the U.S. government.

The scam paid off, very nicely indeed. Settlers and developers -- including the officers of railway lines -- who believed they owned land in Arizona now learnt that Reavis was their landlord, and the rent would be very expensive. For several years in the 1880s and '90s, millions of dollars' worth of tribute poured into Reavis's coffers. He and his wife toured Europe, where genuine nobility treated them as fellow bluebloods, and they were even received at court by Queen Victoria. (These true incidents are not in the movie.) But then a federal investigator noticed a discrepancy in one of the documents...

Vincent Price, not yet the ham actor he would be later, gives a riveting performance as Reavis. We know from the beginning that he's a fraud, and we're in on the scam as he puts his brilliant scheme into operation. Master cameraman James Wong Howe surpasses himself here, especially in one sequence in which Price emotes with an improbably large map of Arizona behind him as a backdrop. When Reavis's scam is rumbled, the lynch mob break into his land office to hang him on the spot. In one of the best scenes of his entire film career, Price explains to his swindled victims why they'll be better off if they let him live: Reavis is the only one who can untangle the web of his forgeries.

Another fine performance is given by dwarf actor Angelo Rossitto in a supporting role. In silent films and well into the 1930s, Rossitto was cast in movies purely because of his physique, and he was a wretchedly bad actor, being especially inept with dialogue. (His scene with the armless woman in 'Freaks' is painfully inept.) By the 1950s, Rossitto had acquired some acting ability (largely through his friendship with Bela Lugosi), and he was a fine dramatic actor. I hail him as the only performer who worked with both Lon Chaney Snr *and* Mel Gibson! Sadly, Ellen Drew is far less effective here in the crucial role of Sofia de Peralta, the counterfeit Baroness who owes all her wealth to Reavis's connivances. Drew is utterly unconvincing as a Mestiza ... this is fatal to her characterisation, as the sole reason for Sofia's presence in the scheme was her Latina ancestry.

Regrettably and unnecessarily, the taut screenplay of 'Baron of Arizona' deviates from the historic record. There's evidence that the real Reavis's convoluted scheme involved at least one murder; this isn't mentioned in the film. Reavis's marriage to the false Dona Peralta produced twin sons: in this film, the two boys are combined into a single character. The movie ends touchingly: Reavis confesses his crimes, is convicted, endures the confiscation of all his wealth, and serves a long prison sentence. Years later, he emerges from prison -- broken, broke and disgraced -- and stumbles out into the rain, only to find Sofia and their son waiting for him in a carriage. 'Get in,' says Sofia tersely. In real life, the ending was much more inglorious. As soon as the money was gone, Sofia and her twin sons vamoosed into the mesquite. James Reavis spent a year in prison awaiting trial, then served two years: a surprisingly merciful sentence. He emerged an utterly broken man. Allegedly, he spent the last two decades of his life haunting libraries -- the same archives he'd previously scoured for materials -- pathetically re-reading old newspaper accounts of his past glories.

'The Baron of Arizona' is an astonishing film, with unusual subject matter, briskly told. I'll rate this movie 9 out of 10.

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