The Baron of Arizona

Synopsis: The U.S. government recognizes land grants made when the West was under Spanish rule. This inspires James Reavis to forge a chain of historical evidence that makes a foundling girl the Baroness of Arizona. Reavis marries the girl and presses his claim to the entire Arizona territory.
Director(s): Samuel Fuller
Production: Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes:
97 min

Gentlemen, to the state of Arizona.

To Arizona.

That's good, Governor.

The state of Arizona.

I kind of like the sound of it.

I'm glad I lived to see this day.

- Mr. Griff?

- No, thank you, Governor.

- Mmm. Choice Havanas.

- I'll smoke this one.

Well, you must have

something very special there.

- Very special.

- Are you writing any more books, John?

No. That was just a sideline with me.

I've been working with the Department

of Interior all these years.

A friend of mine gave me this cigar.

A celebration for him too.

His 30th wedding anniversary.

Gentlemen, I'd like to propose a toast...

to a real lover of Arizona -

to my friend...

James Addison Reavis.

The man who called himself

the Baron of Arizona?

Yes. He will always be a

part of the Arizona legend.

Were it not for him, perhaps you gentlemen...

would not have formed your

senatorial committee on statehood...

as fervidly as you did.

Oh, yes. I remember that cheap swindler.

Swindler? Yes.

But cheap?

Oh, there was nothing

cheap aboutJames Reavis.

You only remember what you read

in the papers, Mr. Reynolds.

But I don't understand, Mr.

Griff. Uh, he's your friend?


I always thought you were bitter enemies.

On the contrary, Governor...

it was a challenge to have

such a man as an adversary.

He put up a most magnificent

fight against the government.

What on earth made him dream

up such a fantastic swindle?


Wasn't he a clerk in the Santa

Fe land office at one time?

Yes, he was...

and it infuriated him that

ignorant people inherited land...

because the United States

recognized Spanish grants.

So he decided to steal

Arizona with forged documents.

Didn't he spend many

years perfecting his plan?

Yes. Many years.

He studied ancient records

and learned to forge them.

He studied languages.

He adopted the manners of

a gentleman of culture...

knowing all these things

were necessary to his scheme.

He created a man called Miguel de Peralta...

the first Baron of Arizona.

He was now ready to put his plan in motion.

One rainy night in 1872...

just outside Phoenix-

- Pepito Alvarez?

- Yes.

There is a girl living

here by the name of Sofia?


She was left with you

when she was one year old.

I am James Reavis from the

land office in Santa Fe.

Come in, Mr. Reavis.



For months it did not rain here.

Oh, thank you.

You mind? Mmm.


Uh, would you like a good Havana?

- I do not smoke.

- Oh.

Mr. Alvarez, uh...

the government of the United

States is a very fair government.

You know that.

It recognizes Spanish titles to land grants.

- Do you know what a land grant is?

- Yes.

Well, it seems that back in 1748...

the King of Spain gave

to Miguel de Peralta...

a grant of land in America.

- Did you ever hear of Peralta?

- No.

He was the first Baron of Arizona.

Baron? In America?

Yes. And according to the

laws of this country...

his direct descendant is the

rightful heir to the Peralta grant.

The heir?

Oh, yes. That means that the person...

related to him today...

owns all that land.

What has this to do with Sofia?

Her real name is Sofia de Peralta.

Here are the papers to prove it.

You, uh -

You make family for Sofia with these papers?

Read it.

I do not read.

Well, according to these papers,

she is the last of the Peraltas.

- Sofia?

- She's singing Dolores to sleep.

Who is Dolores?

This is, uh, Estrelita, Dolores's sister.

- Ah.

- I make family for Sofia too.

But not so good for her like these papers.

Ah. Call the lucky little mother.



To Reavis, this undernourished child...

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Samuel Fuller

Samuel Michael Fuller (August 12, 1912 – October 30, 1997) was an American screenwriter, novelist, and film director known for low-budget, understated genre movies with controversial themes, often made outside the conventional studio system. Fuller wrote his first screenplay for Hats Off in 1936, and made his directorial debut with the Western I Shot Jesse James (1949). He would continue to direct several other Westerns and war thrillers throughout the 1950s. Fuller shifted from Westerns and war thrillers in the 1960s with his low-budget thriller Shock Corridor in 1963, followed by the neo-noir The Naked Kiss (1964). He was inactive in filmmaking for most of the 1970s, before writing and directing the war epic The Big Red One (1980), and the experimental White Dog (1982), whose screenplay he co-wrote with Curtis Hanson. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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