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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

IN OLD ARIZONA (1928)


Sound came to Hollywood via many paths. But the system that stuck grew out of Fox's MovieTone Newsreels when John Ford & Raoul Walsh reasoned that those mobile sound trucks would work just fine for shorts & features. ARIZONA is generally considered the first 100% Talkie shot on location and if it's predictably lumbering, the first third is quite watchable with tasty character bits (at a snail's pace) & stunning lensing from the great Arthur Edeson who'd also shoot Walsh's 1930 70mm Western THE BIG TRAIL. Walsh originally directed & starred in this, but because of a car accident that cost him his left eye he shares directing credit w/ Fox studio hack supreme Irving Cummings. Accent challenged Warner Baxter stepped into the lead & even got an Oscar for his cornball perf. This was the first Cisco Kid pic & it's worth hanging in there not only for historical merit points, but for the ultra-pragmatic/Nietzschean ending which still packs a bit of a shock.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: BROKEBACK ALERT!! Watch for a scene where Baxter's Cisco & Edmund Lowe 's Sergeant first compare the size of and then pat (!) each other's holstered guns.

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