Arizona (1940)

Approved   |    |  Western

Arizona (1940) Poster

During the 1860s Tucson, a pioneer woman struggles to succeed in the freight and cattle business while at risk at the hands of corrupt and violent local businessmen and rampaging Indians.


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6 July 2014 | MartinHafer
| An odd but enjoyable Jean Arthur film
"Arizona" probably marks the most unusual performance by Jean Arthur. Usually, this actress is known for comedies or romance but here she's in a western. This isn't that unusual, considering she's known for her performance in "Shane". However, here in "Arizona", she plays a completely different sort of role. She's a tough-as-nails broad--one who is the equal to any man....and don't you forget it!!

The film begins in Tucson, Arizona about 1861. It's a wild town--and not even much of a town at that. The only non-Indian or Hispanic woman there is Phoebe (Arthur) and you are introduced to her when she enters the cantina and holds all of men working for Lazarus Ward (Porter Hall) at gunpoint! It seems some of them stole from her and she's going to blow their heads off unless they return the money! Watching all this is a newcomer, Peter (William Holden) and, bizarrely, he's smitten!! She soon falls for him, too. However, there's a glitch in their romance-- he's a wandering soul and is only stopping by on his way to California. When he eventually leaves town, it leaves Phoebe to deal not only with the skunk Ward but his secret partner, Jefferson Carteret (Warren William). The two weasels plan on ruining Phoebe's budding freight business and when that attempt fails, Carteret plans on something even more devious. When Peter returns from California, he sees right through Carteret and you know by the end of the film one of them will be pushing up daisies!

This is a rather sprawling film with a little bit of everything in it. While the film isn't easy to believe, the acting is quite nice. I particularly liked William--who was magnificent in playing slimy rogues. And, here he's at his slimiest! Well worth seeing if a bit silly in places--it's the sort of western that's fun to watch but difficult to believe. Plus, too often the film relied on intertitle cards scattered throughout the film instead of actually SHOWING things they should have shown instead. Good but not great overall.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

25 December 1940


English, Spanish

Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Cortaro, Arizona, USA

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

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