The Baron of Arizona (1950) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Baron of Arizona (1950)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Samuel Fuller wrote and directed this lively drama based on the real-life adventures of James Addison Reavis, one of the most ambitious swindlers of the 19th Century. In 1871, Reavis (played by Vincent Price) began hatching an elaborate scheme to claim the Arizona territory (then three decades away from statehood) as his own. At the time, land grants established during Spanish rule of Arizona were still valid, and one rainy evening Reavis visited Pepito Peralta (Vladimir Sokoloff) and his daughter Sofia (Karen Kester) with some exciting news. While working as a real estate clerk, Reavis found documents which granted ownership of nearly the whole of the Arizona territory to one Miguel Peralta, who was named Baron of the new land by Spain's rulers, and as his heir Sofia will become Baroness when she reaches adulthood, giving her claim to the territory. After giving Pepito and Sofia money and hiring a governess (Beulah Bondi) to educate the girl in a manner befitting the Barony, Reavis sailed for Spain on business; unknown to the Peraltas, Reavis posed first as a monk and then as a gypsy in order to revise old land grant documents to conform with his story. Several years later, Reavis returned to Pepito and Sofia's home, and asked the young woman (now played by Ellen Drew) to marry him. Once wed, Reavis presented his carefully forged paperwork to the Arizona authorities which gave him and his bride royal claim to the land; however, not everyone believed Reavis's elaborate tale, and John Griff (Reed Hadley), an expert in falsified documents, was brought in to examine the evidence. The Baron of Arizona gave Vincent Price a rare leading role in a non-horror vehicle, and he cited it as one of his favorite performances on film.
Classics , Drama , Western
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Vincent Price
as James Addison Reavis
Ellen Drew
as Sofia de Peralta-Reavis
Beulah Bondi
as Loma Morales
Vladimir Sokoloff
as Pepito Alvarez
Reed Hadley
as Griff
Robert H. Barrat
as Judge Adams
Robin Short
as Lansing
Barbara Woodell
as Carry Lansing
Tina Pine
as Rita
Tina Rome
as Rita
Margia Dean
as Marquesa
Edward Keane
as Surveyor Miller
Gene Roth
as Father Guardian
Karen Kester
as Sofia as a child
Joseph Green
as Gunther
Tristram Coffin
as McCleary
I. Stanford Jolley
as Secretary of Interior
Terry Frost
as Morelle
Adolfo Ornelas
as Martinez
Wheaton Chambers
as Brother Gregory
Robert Vincent O'Neil
as Brother Paul
Stephen S. Harrison
as Surveyor's Assistant
Margo Woode
as Carry Lansing
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Baron of Arizona

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

Not one of Fuller's best films, though the subject is fascinatingly offbeat, the cinematography is by James Wong Howe, and no personal Fuller project is devoid of interest.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A Balzacian comedy recalled by a man who, like Fuller, can't help admiring a rogue who can wield ingenuity in a wolfish world

Full Review… | May 15, 2011

This is a powerful and colorful film, the second to be directed by the gifted Fuller, which shows a large slice of pioneer life in early America.

Full Review… | January 12, 2010
TV Guide

The craziest true story I've never heard of that turned out to be pretty damn true. Even with Fuller shouting his own melodramatic version of the truth at the top of his lungs

Full Review… | August 29, 2009

Starring Vincent Price, Sam Fuller's second feature is a bizarre noirish Western, marred by preposterous plotting, but extremely well shot by ace lesner James Wong Howe.

Full Review… | July 5, 2009

The Baron of Arizona (1950) is all thumbs, as much a forgery as the one perpetrated by its protagonist James Addison Reavis (Vincent Price).

Full Review… | August 17, 2007
House Next Door

Audience Reviews for The Baron of Arizona

He's just a lot of fancy words... James Reavis is a former government official that was in charge of filing key paperwork and he spent his time researching laws and documentation. He trains himself to be a master forger and discovers a loop hole that provides certain descendants with all of the land of Arizona and southern Colorado. He plans and executes a plan that allows him to be sole owner of 1.5 American states. Can the government thwart Reavis' plan? "Only peasants cry." Samuel Fuller, director of The Naked Kiss, I Shot Jesse James, The Steel Helmet, Run of the Arrow, Forty Guns, Shock Corridor, and The Crimson Kimono, delivers Baron of Arizona. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and the fact it is based on a true story makes it even more fascinating. The acting was excellent and the cast includes Vincent Price, Ellen Drew, Reed Hadley, Beulah Bondi, and Margia Dean. "He had more important things to do..." This was on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) not too long ago so I had to DVR it. Seeing Price in a western is always a treat and this was no different. I loved seeing a young and sly Price in a historical piece from this era. This is definitely worth a viewing and your time. "Why should we trust you?" Grade: B

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

Interesting because it's based on a true story. Sam Fuller delivers one his calmest pictures.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

It's a pretty far fetched story, but it is said to be based on a real story, which is really incredible. This movie is dramatic, romantic, exciting, and humorous. I loved Price in this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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