Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vincent Price, Ellen Drew, Vladimir Sokoloff, Beulah Bondi, Reed Hadley, Robert Barrat, Robin Short, Tina Pine, Karen Kester, Margia Dean, Jonathan Hale, Edward Keane, Barbara Woodell, I. Stanford Jolley, Fred Kohler Jr.
Written by: Samuel Fuller
Directed by: Samuel Fuller
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 97
Date: 03/01/1950

The Baron of Arizona (1950)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fake Bite

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When Fuller based a movie on a true story, he made sure it was a doozy. The Baron of Arizona (1950) tells the story of James Addison Reavis (Vincent Price) who went to extraordinary lengths, forging documents and ancient texts and building stone markers, to claim the land rights to the entire Arizona territory.

He locates an orphaned girl and announces that she's really a Baroness. When she grows up, he marries her and becomes a "Baron." He even becomes a monk for several years merely to gain access to a particularly elusive set of records!

Though the idea of forging documents doesn't sound like a particularly visual movie, Fuller finds ways to make his story exciting and compelling; he even gets perhaps the best performance from Price that I've ever seen. Ellen Drew co-stars as the poor, duped "Baroness."

Criterion Eclipse continues its series of excellent DVD box sets devoted to "lesser" films by great directors. The idea is that, by packaging these films together for a bargain price with no "extras," they are more easily accessible than they would be individually. The First Films of Samuel Fuller, containing three DVDs, is the fifth in the series.

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