Early Tucson Film

Early Tucson Film

The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation in partnership with local, national and international organizations works to repatriate Tucson’s early film heritage and present these cinematic experiences to Southern Arizona.  


RIDIN’ WILD (1925)


In early 2011, THPF acquired an 8mm copy of the 1925 silent “B” western "Ridin’ Wild". Shot in downtown Tucson, the film features the Historic Toole Avenue Train Depot, downtown streets and a conclusion at the 1925 Tucson Rodeo: La Fiesta del los Vaqueros. The film has been digitized by PingPong Media and screening is anticipated in 2012.  Directed by Leon De La Moth and produced by Robert J. Homer, the film stars: William Barrymore, Pauline Curley, Jack Richardson, Walter Maly and C.L. James.


The early Western utilizes Tucson and the surrounding countryside as a rich background.  The plot follows the adventures of Kit Carson who travels to Tucson thinking he as consumption and seeking the dry Arizona air.  He accidentally hooks up with rustler Jack Richardson where he learns—very quickly—the ways of the west. Meeting kindly Pauline Curley, Kit discovers he only has a bronchial infection, then learns of Richardson’s evil ways and defends her honor against Richardson’s lustful desires on the young maiden. With high stakes in the upcoming big rodeo, Richardson kidnaps Kit to prevent him from competing. Naturally, Kit escapes and, against all odds (and common sense for a newly transplanted easterner) wins every event. 




In cooperation with CNC Archives Franaise du Film the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation presented the restored 1924 silent film The Mine with the Iron Door.  Directed by Sam Wood and staring Pat O'Malley, Dorothy Mackaill and Raymond Hatton based on the book of the same name by renowned best selling early 20th century Tucson author Harold Bell Wright.  The motion picture was shot entirely on location in the Tucson basin, Oracle and in the Canada del Oro in spring of 1924 and was a milestone in the cinematic history of Arizona.  The film was considered lost until two surviving prints surfaced in the Moscow Film Archives and the French Film Archives in the early 2000s.     


The film originally premiered at the Historic Rialto Theater in the fall of 1924.  For the first time in 86 years the THPF in conjunction with the Rialto Theater Foundation presented this cinematic treasure with a new thematic score performed live in fall of 2010.