Arizona's LIttle Hollywood

Sedona and Northern Arizona forgotten film history

60 FILMS. 680 PAGES.
175 PHOTOS, MANY NEVER
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

SIGNED COPY $60

 

 

 

Mug shot of blacklisted Broken
Arrow screenwriter Albert Maltz,
taken when he entered Mill Point
Federal Prison after refusing to testify
before the House Committee on
Un-American Activities.
WATCH A FILM ABOUT
THE HOLLYWOOD TEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mug shot of blacklisted Broken
Arrow screenwriter Albert Maltz,
taken when he entered Mill Point
Federal Prison after refusing to testify
before the House Committee on
Un-American Activities.

WATCH A FILM ABOUT
THE HOLLYWOOD TEN

 

HISTORY REMADE

For seven years, Joe McNeill has devoted his life to accurately documenting
Sedona’s film legacy. Now, Joe shares the details of how Sedona got her history back.
Interview by Erika Ayn Finch

      When the first issue of Sedona Monthly was published in 2003, it included a story about the filming of 1950’s Broken Arrow in Red Rock Country. Joe McNeill, the article’s author and the magazine’s creative director, had no idea what he started with the brief story. As the magazine’s series of profiles on Westerns filmed in Sedona blossomed, so did Joe’s research. Three years after the series began, Joe decided Sedona’s film history deserved more than monthly magazine profiles, and the idea that would become Arizona’s Little Hollywood: Sedona and Northern Arizona’s Forgotten Film History 1923-1973 began to take shape.
       Sedona played host to more than 60 productions from 1923 to 1973. Arizona’s Little Hollywood tells the story of each of these films in detail. The 680-page, hardcover, illustrated tome also reveals some never-before-heard facts about film history in Sedona and beyond. Readers will get a look at silent cowboy star Fred Thomson’s long-forgotten portrayal of frontiersman Kit Carson in the first Western ever filmed in Red Rock Country; learn the story behind Der Kaiser von Kalifornien, an anti-capitalist Nazi propaganda Western filmed



on location in Sedona and the Grand Canyon in 1935; get the details on why Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley isn’t as important to the filming of John Ford’s Stagecoach as everyone thinks and the discovery that some scenes from the movie were filmed in Sedona; and hear the full story behind the making of the classic Johnny Guitar (temper tantrums and all).
       Now, as a true-blooded California girl, Western film history never really piqued my interest before I moved to Sedona. I’ll readily admit I never fully understood Sedona’s impact on film history until I sat down and read Arizona’s Little Hollywood cover to cover; now, I’ll never look at Red Rock Country the same way.
      Erika Ayn Finch: Tell us about how the movie stories in Sedona Monthly began. When and why did you decide to turn the stories into a book?
      Joe McNeill: The first time we came to Sedona I immediately recognized the rocks but couldn’t place where I’d seen them before. When we got into town, I saw things about the films that had been made here. I’m a lifelong movie fan, so that got me curious, and I did a little follow-up research when we got home. As someone who grew up in an urban area on the East Coast, to be in a place where they made Western movies was kind of interesting. After we moved to Sedona and started Sedona Monthly, we needed editorial content. I had done Internet searches and looked in [film] books, but there really wasn’t anything about Sedona. Very few reference books even mention it. The Internet Movie Database has listings for it – much of them incorrect, as it turned out. So I thought it would be interesting to run stories about the movies in the magazine as an ongoing series. Right away, I discovered there was no trustworthy information anywhere to use in the articles.
      EAF: Have you seen all of the movies in the book? Which movie should everyone see?
      JM: I have seen every theatrical film made in Sedona between 1923 and 1973 that still exists. My own favorites are Riders of the Purple Sage, Mystery Ranch, Johnny Guitar and Broken Arrow, which is probably the one film made in Sedona that everybody should see. It was the first major movie made in the sound era by a Hollywood studio in which Native Americans were not portrayed as savages. Most people today probably aren’t aware of how important the film was to its time, how unique it was that the good guys happened to be Indians. Broken Arrow is historically significant for another reason, too. It was one of the first films written in secret by a member of the “Hollywood Ten,” the group that was blacklisted in the late ’40s and sent to jail because of their refusal to admit membership in the Communist Party. .
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