Jean Arthur at the Lead Makes It Even More Fascinating...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 11/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Go west and find your riches, as the west offers new opportunities that await discovery. This was the idea of the 18th and 19th century America, which led many to seek a new and better future in the unknown west. It led to the colonization of the western United States, which continued over centuries, as people began to inhabit different regions of the west. It was not an easy journey, as the Native Americans sought a way to protect their way of life against the new invaders while nature also presented numerous threats. Despite the many hazards, people continued to flow west with the hope for something better. Director Wesley Ruggles portrays the struggle of the western expansion through a woman and the people around her, as they fight for their southwest state - Arizona.
Arizona opens with a rolling text that briefly explains the situation, as a large caravan rolls into the meager town of Tucson in the year 1860. Tucson has become a gathering place for a diverse group of people, as they for some reason have to end their journey west at this arid town. There is no law enforcement present to offer safety, which means that those with the ability to fend for themselves often deliver their own justice. Phoebe Titus (Jean Arthur) is such a woman, and she does not fit the traditional norm for a woman of the 19th century. She is a jeans wearing entrepreneur with a charisma resembling Jean d'Arc who has exchange her sword for a six-shooter while willingly dealing with those who try to take advantage of her on her own accord.
Despite her independence and strong will, Phoebe still presents a feminine persona by baking pies while presently being the only known Caucasian woman in the state of Arizona. Thus, many men find her intriguing, and one of these men is Peter Muncie (William Holden). Peter eyes her and it is apparent that she makes quite an impact on him from the first encounter when she is dealing with two thieves. The affection is mutual; however, both have equal difficulty to express their feelings. Nonetheless, Phoebe expresses her emotions by offering him a job, as a caravan pilot for her newly started freight business. However, he kindly declines, as he must see California before it is too late for him, but promises to return.
Phoebe's business venture begins to run smoothly, until the beginning of the Civil War. It becomes a time of hardships, as the military withdraw from Arizona to fight the war in the east. Meanwhile, Phoebe and the people of Tucson must find an alternative way of safeguarding their homes and lives against a rampant war with the Native Americans, which Arizona does by joining the Confederate side. It becomes a time of much difficulty for Phoebe, but she does not surrender to the hardships. Instead, it seems as if she is flourishing in the difficulties while her mind occasionally drifts to Peter. Unaware of his possible return others begin to show interest such as the shady character Jefferson Carteret (Warren William) who befriends Phoebe with ulterior motives.
Arizona presents an interesting film that captures some of the hardships that the pioneers dealt with, and to cast a feminine lead makes it even more fascinating. How the film portrays the Native Americans is unsettling, yet it was a common portrayal in the 1930s and 1940s. Despite this ethnic fallacy, the film still provides an accurate illustration of how the first Arizonans experienced the migration west and some of the difficulties that they faced in the dawning of the new state. Eventually, the audience will recognize the resolute perseverance that the pioneers had to possess in order to manage through the repetitive adversity that nature and other forces caused upon those who sought a better way of life in the arid Arizona."
I like this film!
Mae East | Brooklyn, NY United States | 01/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jean Arthur is terrific in "Arizona" as a strong-willed woman who holds her own out west. She gets her man (Holden) without sacrificing her freedom and dreams. I suppose one should call the whole thing unconventional. After all, it's a western whose lead character and overriding focus is the heroine (who is also unconventional). So few westerns retain my interest because of the lack of interesting roles for women. Thelength of the film, a common complaint, didn't bother me, I felt the film showed the "complete world," of Arthur's character's life in Arizona while never becoming one of those overblown epics in which the characters get lost for all the action. All in all, I think this film deserves more respect and attention than it gets."
Another superb Jean Arthur performance.
Craig Rizzi | Carlsbad,Ca. | 02/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just viewed this 1940 movie a few days ago.Overall,the picture was above average for two or three reasons.First of all,the cinematography is superb and secondly,Jean Arthur's fine performance elevates my opinion.There is a very brief moment near the end of the movie,when Arthur's character(Phoebe),is standing off by herself waiting for the outcome of the gunfight between her new husband(Holden)and the villain(Warren William).No words are spoken but in less than thirty seconds of a closeup on Arthur,her expressions shift from terror(at the sound of gunshots),to hope,and finally to extreme relief when she hears Holden's voice.A simply superb piece of acting by the wonderful Jean Arthur.If you buy this movie and if you are a Jean Arthur fan,you will not be disappointed."