I remember watching the television program "The Cisco Kid" after school when I was a kid. I quite enjoyed how The Kid would always make the ladies swoon and outsmart the law. He was one of those "good" bad guys that you always found yourself cheering for. Old Arizona is a movie about The Cisco Kid (the first in a series of films), a Latino bandit, and one of his many adventures. Once I had read that Warner Baxter (The Cisco Kid) won the 1929 Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in this black and white film I was doubly looking forward to seeing this film. Another plus was that O. Henry (Ruthless People and O. Henry's Full House), the man responsible for the writing on the television series, had written the script. After watching the film I have to admit I did not enjoy it as much as the television series, but it was not without merit. I was amazed that this film was also nominated for Best Picture in 1929. I guess it was largely due to the fact that it was an important film historically in that it was the first movie with sound filmed outdoors and not on a set. There are a few scenes that seem to have been randomly inserted simply to demonstrate how this new sonic frontier was applied. The two directors, Irving Cummings (The Cisco Kid and Curly Top) and Raoul Walsh (The Naked and the Dead and White Heat) perform an impressive job in that with filming outside they are doing what no one else has done before. This technological first is not enough to save the film. The problem lay in the fact that it is supposed to be a western style film and not much action happens; the film is very slow moving. Warner Baxter is full of emotion (sometimes too much!) and charm as the infamous Cisco Kid, but he is not given much "action" in this role. Many of the other actors are very hammy in their acting and the sound does not always match their moving lips. A lot of the themes and dialogue in this film will seem rather dated, but on an historical level it will be an interesting watch for some viewers.
The Cisco Kid (Warner Baxter – 42nd Street and The Cisco Kid) is a bandit who holds up stagecoaches, but does not rob the people; he only takes the coaches' Wells Fargo boxes. All the ladies see him as very charming. There is a reward of $5,000 out for the capture of The Cisco Kid, but he has always eluded the lawmen. This is amazing because it seems that everyone in town knows who The Cisco Kid really is except for the barber. Usually after he robs a stagecoach he goes to visit his girlfriend, Tonia Marie (Dorothy Burgess – Orient Express and Taxi!), who is seeing other men behind The Kid's back.
The people in the town become tired of losing their money so they ask the army to try and capture The Cisco Kid. Sergeant Mickey Dunn (Edmund Lowe – Around the World in Eighty Days and Heller in Pink Tights) is assigned by the colonel to lead a troop out to find and capture The Cisco Kid. Being quite a ladies man he first goes into town to meet women. He ends up meeting Tonia Marie at the local saloon and finds out that she is The Cisco Kid's girlfriend. Dunn follows her back to her house and romances her. The two now plot to capture The Cisco Kid and claim the $5,000 reward. Through Tonia Marie's mother The Cisco kid finds out about their plot to capture him. He is hurt by the betrayal of his girlfriend, but is able to set up a surprise for the two lovers.