Photo of a man on a horse on the edge of a butte

Arizona on the Silverscreen 1927-49 (Part 1)

Many films have been shot in Arizona because of its movie-making friendly weather. Arizona also has a wide range of geographical zones that allow for such extreme differences, such as Old Tucson for Westerns to the Imperial Sand Dunes near Yuma for such films as “Star Wars” and “Jarhead,” as well as Route 66 in the North for movies such as “Roadhouse 66” and “Natural Born Killers.”

In fact, a snowstorm prevented Flagstaff from becoming the center of the motion picture industry in 1911. Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Laskey had decided to relocate their New York-based motion picture company to an area with access to more bright, sunny landscapes for outdoor filming.

When their train arrived in Flagstaff, the sky was a deep blue. The movie moguls were surrounded by the majestic pines, and the snow capped San Francisco Peaks made an awe-inspiring backdrop. Unfortunately, two days after their arrival a storm brought high winds, icy rain and snow that soon turned the town into a winter wonderland, unsuitable for film making.

Regardless, Arizona has had its fair share of limelight. Below is a list of the films shot in Arizona from 1927-1949 with many more to come.

  • Wings 1927 Tucson
  • The Painted Desert 1931 Tuba City
  • Lost Horizon 1933 Tucson
  • The Garden of Allah 1936 Yuma
  • Gunga Din 1939 Yuma
  • Stagecoach 1939 Mesa
  • Arizona 1940 Tucson
  • The Grapes of Wrath 1940 Topock
  • The Thief of Bagdad 1940 Grand Canyon
  • The Westerner 1940 Tucson
  • Casablanca 1942 Flagstaff
  • Flying Tigers 1942 Flagstaff
  • Road to Morocco 1942 Yuma
  • The Outlaw 1943 Yuma
  • The Uninvited 1944 Phoenix
  • Along Came Jones 1945 Nogales
  • Leave Her to Heaven 1945 Prescott, Sedona
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s 1945 Tucson
  • Duel in the Sun 1946 Tucson, Yuma
  • Song of the South 1946 Phoenix
  • Angel and the Badman 1947 Sedona
  • The Sea of Grass 1947 Canyon de Chelly
  • Blood on the Moon 1948 Sedona
  • Red River 1948 Tucson
  • Lust for Gold 1949 Superstition Mountains