"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.