Monday, January 19, 2009
Directed by: Raoul Walsh and Irving Cummings
Starring: Warner Baxter, Dorothy Burgess, and Edmund Lowe
Plot: A duplicitous woman comes between a bandit and the Army man sent to catch him.
Thoughts: We begin our tour of the 2nd Academy Awards with the first talking Western. Westerns were a staple of the Silent Era so it only made sense for the genre to make the transition to talking films. Technically, In Old Arizona was considered a marvel at the time for being the first talking film photographed outdoors as having its entire soundtrack, talking and all, on film.
The film was based on the 1907 story, "The Caballero Way", which was the first of O. Henry's myriad Cisco Kid stories. "The Caballero Way" had already been adapted as a silent film in 1914, so this iteration could be considered one of the first remakes (a trend that continues today for better or worse).
Unfortunately, I didn't feel it held up very well as I felt the majority of the acting was on par with maybe a high school drama club. Warner Baxter as the Cisco Kid exuded charm and charisma in each of his scenes. Unfortunately, there are several scenes where he was not present and were instead "treated" to Edmund Lowe's bad Brooklyn accent while he mugged for the camera or the shrill Dorothy Burgess who never convinced me she was worth the attention of one of these guys let alone both of them. As I mentioned, Baxter was fun to watch and I have to admit that I liked the ending a lot.
Although nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, In Old Arizona only took home a Best Performance by an Actor Award for Warner Baxter. The film also earned nominations for Irving Cummings (Raoul Walsh had to cede the chair for nearly all of the film after a traffic accident) for Achievement in Direction, Tom Barry's script adaptation for Best Writing, and Arthur Edeson for Achievement in Cinematography.