The date given on the back cover of my Fox DVD for my edition (pictured above) is 2005. The running time is 99 minutes, which is actually 4 minutes more than listed on the IMDb. It seems likely that this is the full original length of the film, but I have no way of determining that for certain. In any case, there does not seem to be anything obviously missing from the story.
The scene selection menu has 20 stops, which is adequate for a 99-minute film.
There are no special features.
As this is a very old film, with probably very few surviving good prints, and as it was one of the very earliest sound films (in fact, I think the earliest all-sound film currently available on DVD), it is to be expected that the sound might be poor in spots. And so it is. The sound is weak, to the point that one has to set one's television to a higher-than-normal volume level to enjoy the film. And even then, some spots are still weak, and one can't always make out what the characters are saying. Probably about 5% of the dialogue is muffled in this way. This is not enough to impair our understanding of the plot, however, which is pretty simple and straightforward. And I don't blame Fox for this sound problem; it would take a major restoration to fix that up, and this obscure early talkie probably would not warrant such a restoration -- i.e., would not sell well enough to justify it.
The place where the poor sound is most noticeable is in the opening of the film, where the theme song is sung to a blank screen before the credits come on. The style of singing is a very old style, corny even in 1928, where a male tenor with a syrupy half-operatic and half-crooner voice sings a love song.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Caballero's WaySept. 13 2005
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Set in the late 1890s and featuring Warner Baxter in his Oscar winning role as the Cisco Kid, IN OLD ARIZONA is oddly entertaining. One of the first all-talking movies, its primitive sound recording techniques make it a pretty static `action' western. Although some scenes were shot outdoors - impressively catching the actors' voices without boom mikes showing at the top of the screen - most of the action takes place indoors, if action we can call it, while the actors sit real close to each other and talk loud and slow in interminable dialogues. Missing is the normal musical scoring and under-scoring, although many scenes open and close with picturesque cowboys, pianists, and caballeros singing or strumming an old-timey standard. This odd entertainment will appeal to you if you want to see how films went about figuring out what to do now that they finally had a sound track.
IN OLD ARIZONA is taken from O. Henry's short story "The Caballero's Way." It's a story that's easy to find with a simple internet search and is worth the hunt. The movie is more or less faithful to the source: the Cisco Kid loves Tonia (Dorothy Burgess) who, O. Henry tells us, was `half Carmen, half Madonna, and the rest...let us say, was humming-bird.' The movie Tonia is quite a bit more Carmen than Madonna, though, and it's not long before her roving eyes fall upon calvary Sgt. Mickey Dunn (Edmund Lowe), a bowery boy, transplanted to the old west, who is mesmerized equally by the humming-bird charms of Tonia and the sizable bounty offered for the Cisco Kid, dead or alive. Not quite the antagonist or motivation envisioned by O. Henry, but close enough for the purposes of this movie. With its simple but strong plot in place, IN OLD ARIZONA shows us how this deadly love triangle plays out.
For fans of old movies IN OLD ARIZONA is fascinating. As one of the first big pictures released after the introduction of sound, I was engrossed more by the way the movie's makers used their new toy than with the story. What sound effects do they use for stagecoaches and galloping horses? How do they handle background, or ambient, noise? Not too well, as it turns out. There's a scene in a bar where the directors (Irving Cummings & Raoul Walsh share directing credits) have a piano player sing in the background while a conversation is going on in the foreground. The music more or less drowns out the conversation. Baxter's Mexican accent sounds like it was filtered through Chico Marx. Surprisingly, this was Dorothy Burgess's first movie. Twenty-one years old at the time, her acting, with its languidly paced exaggeration, belongs in a silent film. Usually I like or dislike a movie solely on the content of the story. My reaction to IN OLD ARIZONA is a little different. The story was okay, but there was way too much gibble-gabble, too little action, and a good chunk of the dialogue is hard to follow. I added another star because this is a transitional film, in good condition, and a study of not only what Hollywood was going to do with sound, but also what it would try and discard in the future.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
In Old ArizonaMay 26 2005
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Several years ago I found a source for In Old Arizona on VHS. It was a copy of a copy of a......... well , you get the idea.
It was in pretty poor shape. But, it was also the only resource
I could find for this movie.
This movie is not one of Warner Baxter's best movies. But, it is
historically interesting as being the very first talking western and the first appearance of the Cisco Kid. And he's a bad guy in this one too. And overall, I have to give it five stars for the fact that it was new technology and also interesting to see actors that came from the silent era learning to adapt to speaking a part as well as acting it. I am greatful to Fox for taking this movie out of mothballs and restoring it. It is not perfect but, considering the version I had previously, it is pretty near it. Well worth adding to a movie collector's collection.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Worth watchingFeb. 26 2012
Dr. James Gardner
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"In Old Arizona" is an Oscar winning 1929 black and white film; the first western talkie and the first talkie shot on an outdoors location. It was the third film featuring The Cisco Kid who first appeared in 1914 ("The Caballero's Way") and he went on to a long career with dozens of films, played by Cesar Romero (1941), Duncan Renaldo (1945-50), Gilbert Roland (1946-7), and Jimmy Smits (1994). Renaldo played him in the TV series (1950-56).
In the original O'Henry short story, the Cisco Kid had far more darker facets to his personality, but it was lightened considerably for the big screen, and over the years turned more comical than dramatic .
Warner Baxter (1889-1951) plays Cisco. Baxter was a big star in the 20s. After "In Old Arizona" he went on to star in "Prisoner of Shark island" (1936) and "Kidnapped" (1938) and his career fizzled after that.
Beautiful Dorothy Burgess (1907-61) plays Cisco's love interest in her film debut. She had a brief busy career in the early 30s, but various love affairs and a manslaughter charge squashed her box office appeal.
Square jawed Edmund Lowe (1890-1971) was a leading star in the silent era, and made the transition in the 30s with films like "Chandu the Magician" (1932) and "Dinner at Eight" (1933).
Raoul Walsh (1887-1980) was originally scheduled to direct and star, but an accident with a jack rabbit caused him to lose his eye, and Warner Baxter got his part. Though he's probably best known for his films with Errol Flynn, Walsh was a master of the melodrama - "Roaring Twenties" (1939), "Dark Command" (1940), "High Sierra" (1941) and "White Heat" (1949) - and westerns - "Dark Command" (1940), "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941), "Colorado Territory" (1949), "The Lawless Breed" (1953), "The Tall Men" (1955). He declined noticeably in the 50s after he left Warner Brothers, but his 50+ year career made him one of Hollywood's most memorable directors.
1929 was the first year that the Oscars appeared. "Broadway Melody" won Best Picture, Warner Baxter ("In Old Arizaona") and George Arlis ("Disraeli") shared the Best Actor award, and Mary Pickford won for "Coquette". The most popular films were "Gold Diggers of Broadway", "Sunny Side Up", "The Cock Eyed World", "Welcome Danger", and "The Desert Song". Other notable films that year include the Marx Brothers in "Coconuts", Lionel Barrymore's "Madame X", the first of the Ronald Coleman "Bulldog Drummond" flicks, and Salvador Dali's "An Andalusian Dog".
The film was nominated for Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Writing and won for Best Actor. The NY Times called it "an intelligently contrived talking film". They particularly praised the sound system and the use of incidental sounds (mission bells, a ticking clock, braying of a jackass). Coming as it does in 1929, the film shows its silent heritage in the acting, but the camerawork is very impressive.
Bottom line - well worth watching, mostly from an historical perspective.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
the bowery boys meet the cisco kidSept. 5 2006
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this is probably the highest ranking anyone will ever give this film, but i genuinely enjoyed it. warner baxter creates the role of the cisco kid, adapted from an o. henry short story, and it owes more to o. henry than to zane grey; the dialog is punctuated with tough "noo yawk" street lingo of a century ago, and the denouement is pure irony. and incidentally, there is a hilarious exchange between the two lead cowboys where they compare the size of their respective guns. is this for everyone? by no means. but if you are a westerns buff, and are willing to take a look into a different time and a different mindset, give this a try.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A technological triumph of early soundFeb. 21 2008
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Although this film was released in January 1929, it was filmed in 1928. That makes it truly amazing when you think that the first all-talking picture wasn't even released until July 1928 - "Lights of New York". As others have mentioned, this film does not have lots of action - much screen time is spent with characters just talking in specific locations. There are no exciting shoot-outs or chases as you would expect in a western made just five years later. This is probably due to the motion constraint of the early sound cameras. However, you do get some tremendous long shots of some stunning western vistas. This was because Fox was an early adopter of sound-on-film versus sound-on-disc. This gave Fox the ability to shoot outside and made the studio an innovator in the production of newsreels - they could take their cameras anywhere.
As for the film itself, I'd recommend it only if you're interested in early sound films. Otherwise, you'll probably be bored stiff due to the lack of action. Warner Baxter's portrayal of the Cisco Kid is quite good. He doesn't get too campy with a role that could have been over-the-top in the wrong hands. I do have to wonder - why is every single member of the army that is pursuing Cisco speaking with a Queens accent and why are they using urban New York slang? Was there a mix-up at central casting that day? Was the cast of this film supposed to show up for a Bowery Boys film or a gangster picture and wound up here by mistake? In 1928 there were dialogue coaches, but probably not many coaches on regional dialect. It's a shame to think that if John Wayne had tried out for this early sound western he would have been turned down because he didn't sound like he was from Brooklyn.
As for the quality, the video is quite good on this DVD. The signal/noise ratio is a bit of a problem throughout the film - it is hard to hear quiet conversation. However, this is probably due to the early sound technology. There are no extras on the DVD at all.