There have been 100’s of movies shot on Movie sets across Southern Arizona, mostly B movies, shot in part, around Tucson. Here are some you might recognize. If you want to know more about the movies themselves, try IMDB.com.
Formerly Old Tucson Studios. They will be opening again in 2022 for NIghtfall under new management.
Arizona, 1940 – Old Tucson was built for this movie and then donated Old Tucson to Pima County.
Broken Arrow, 1950 Jimmy Stewart, Tom Jeffords tries to make peace between settlers and Apaches in Arizona territory. Watch the trailer. It looks like some of it may have been filmed in the Chiricahuas and Monument Valley and somewhere with fir trees. I don’t recall the Stronghold having that kind of trees.
Rio Bravo, 1959 – A star-studded cast in an iconic movie. No need to elaborate. Well ok, perhaps the younger generation have never heard of John Wayne and Dean Martin and about 10 others who became the stars of the era.
El Dorado, 1967 – John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. This is the stuff I grew up with.
Three Amigos, 1986 – Silly Humor and a lot of fun. Classic. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. How can you go wrong?
Mescal was formerly run by Old Tucson which belongs to Pima County. It was purchased in 2021 by the Kartchner Family before it was relegated to the dust heap and chopped up for firewood. It is now run by a few paid staff and many donators and volunteers. They are open seasonally. Watch for Mescal tour announcements or visit the website to find special events.
You will have to go to Mescal and take the tour to get all the lowdown on these movies. It was a fun day. They should start up tours again when it cools down and the tourists come back.
Judge Roy Bean, 1972 – Paul Newman
The Outlaw Jose Wales, 1976 – Clint Eastwood
Tom Horn, 1980 – Steve McQueen – Our Tour Guide went into detail
The Quick and the Dead, 1995 – Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and more. Mostly shot in the Saloon. If you have been to Mescal you will recognize a lot of scenes in the Trailer on IMDB.
Tombstone, (1993) – Yes the Kurt Russell version
Gammon’s Gulch boasts several movies that have been filmed in part here, most of which I have never heard of.
Tours are currently by invitation only. See the website for Gammon’s Gulch for more information. Jay Gammons no longer works the movie set.
Loop & Rhett, 2011
The Decoy, 2016
What? You’ve never heard of these?
The Triangle T Guest Ranch has been around so long that the two movies below were filmed here. Of course, it was not named Triangle T at that time, but the rustic ambiance and unique rock structure will bring you back. And the Amerind Foundation Museum is within walking distance. The Saloon use to be open to the public Saturdays. Stop in and see.
This Golf Resort and Spa offers a quiet, laid-back respite in a beautiful setting not far from Tubac, AZ. Stables Grill has changed hands several times but has always been good and the outdoor setting is laid back lovely. The resort is rarely busy, except when they try balloon festivals and Dennis Quaid concerts. There is only one road in and out folks.
Tin Cup, (1996) – Kevin Costner
The Empire Ranch was once one of the largest cattle ranches in all of Arizona at one time. It was once owned by the Vail Family of now Vail, Arizona.
Red River, 1948 & at the San Pedro River as the Red River – John Wayne
Oklahoma, 1955 – This movie was filmed in several spots in Arizona.
3:10 to Yuma, 1952 – Also at Triangle T.
Duel in the Sun, 1946 – Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck, Joseph Cotten
A Star is Born, 1976 – Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson – Well, Okay, I have not seen this movie but it is hard for me to imagine what exactly was filmed on the Empire Ranch.
The San Rafael Ranch is part of the Arizona State Park system. It is not open to the public, being preserved as a Natural Area, for its grasslands which are disappearing due to overgrazing and mesquite. You can still drive by. If you do, let us know what you find. In May 2022, the San Rafael fire burned much of the State’s Natural Area. We have not been back there but hopefully, the large Ranch House remains. You can read about its former tenants, Colonel William Greene here, before it was purchased by the State of Arizona and the Nature Conservancy.
Oklahoma, 1955 – This movie was filmed in several spots in Arizona.The Fantasticks, (2000) (Sonoita, San Rafael Valley)
This is the only movie I know of that was actually filmed in part in Tombstone.
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957 – Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas
Having been to the Titan Missile Museum, I am going to have to watch this again. The subterranean vessel is apparently used as a warp ship in the movie.
Star Trek: First Contact, 1996 – The usual cadre of actors.
If you are interested in other movie locations, I found this site. Guide to Movie Locations.