Sunday, January 24, 2010
Day 321: The Baron of Arizona (1950) - Rank 3.5/5
A very by-the-books biopic on one of the country's greatest con men. The film features an early pairing of two eclectic members of Hollywood - Vincent Price, prior to becoming a horror icon, and director Samuel Fuller (on his second feature length film). Price is James Reavis, a man who would make himself "Baron of Arizona" only through patiently acting out a twenty year scheme that will entitle the state to his name. He does so by adopting an orphan and having her schooled in the ways of Spanish aristocracy. While she grows old, he poses as everything from a monk to a gypsy so he can forge the proper documents to make it seem as if the land belongs to a family of Spanish nobles, whose only surviving relative is the young girl. And when she's old enough, he marries her so he can take over the state, which is a little creepy when you think about it...
Price executes the role with smarmy finesse, as he worms his way into the trust of one organization to the next, taking years to do so at times. As for the direction, well...it's hailed as a long lost Fuller classic, and the "long lost" portion may be accurate; however, the sense of direction is very conventional and it bears none of the earmarks that make it characteristically Fuller's (or anyone else's for that matter). And while the story is interesting, it never soars to the epic proportions its capable of.