September 12th, 2009 – by: Africancrab
The famous Old Tucson Studios lies in the beautifully breathtaking Tucson Mountain Park and is both a movie studio and theme park. It was built by Columbia Studios in 1939 to aid in the filming of the movie "Arizona" and was officially opened to the public in 1960. Visiting the Old Tucson Studios is not the cheapest of attractions: at $17.00 per adult and $11.00 per child it beats many attractions in Tucson. I did not watch the full re-enactment of the movie but the little I saw I found very interesting.
I found the historical aspects of the site and the little museum with film artifacts and the 'coral' from the 1957 "Gunfight at the OK coral" film very charming. It was obvious to me that filming does not take place here anymore. After Arizona completed filming, the location lay dormant for several years, until the filming of the "The Bells of St.Mary's" in 1945, starring Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Earlier movies filmed here include The Last Round-Up in 1947 staring Gene Autry and Winchester in 1950 with James Stewart and "The Last Out Post" with Ronald Reagan. The 1950s saw the filming of the famous "Gunflight at Ok Corral" in 1959, "The Lone Ranger" and "The Lost City of Gold" in 1967, and "Cimarron" in 1959 among others. The park grew building by building with each movie filmed on its dusty streets. The famous John Wayne starred in four movies at Old Tucson Studios.
"Rio Bravo" in 1959 added a saloon, bank building and doctor's office; "McClintock" in 1963 added the McLintock Hotel and "El Dorado in 1967 brought a renovation of the storefronts on Front Street; and with "Rio Lobo" in 1970 came a cantina, a granite-lined creek, a jail and a ranch house.
I was however fascinated by the level of management and maintenance of this place that no longer films yet holds a history so strong. All in all, it was a nice trip and I am glad we went. It is a place where you visit once and it is good. Been there done that and I do not think I would return unless I had to bring a guest. I think they could improve a few things including making the gunfight a little longer and a little more detail (the little I was left a few questions unanswered even for the crown watching), additional attractions would make the $17.
00 a pop worth paying, I felt it should have cost us less than $10.00. Include more than just a train ride in the activities. Matt did not have much to say since he had been there before and he felt a little restless while we were touring. But all in all I had a great time exploring and looking for historic buildings used in various films. Something a little disappointing was that after the big fire that destroyed the buildings, management decided to rebuild it differently than it was. I can't imagine doing a western film there with that huge grand palace building; it looked like it belonged in Tombstone rather than here in the Old Tucson Studios. I honestly thought it looked a little out of place. The Oriental town was a little hidden and I did not understand the significance of it even thought it honored the Chinese prisoners who originally built the railroads.