Presented by The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Celluloid Desert: Tucson in Cinema History


Just 15 years after the birth of the moving image, the first film was shot in Tucson. Sunshine, railroad access, and exotic flora, fauna, and faces made Tucson an ideal movie location. Images of the frontier, the Old West, and the New West have been shaped in the public imagination by our celluloid desert.

This course will look at some of the many iterations of film in Tucson, including early silent films; Hollywood westerns, melodramas, and mysteries; television series; commercials; and homemade films about the region. Screenings will include parts of local silent films, Hollywood feature films, and rarely seen archival films from the UA’s Special Collections, the Library of Congress, and private collectors. The course will provide a thorough background of Tucson’s rich cinematic history, building up to the incredible array of local film activity that will occur in Tucson this fall during the month of October.

The course will be taught by Jennifer Jenkins, a Professor of English, Film, and Archival Studies in the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her work focuses on the regional cinema history of the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands. She harbors a not-so-secret passion for Southwestern and borderlands home movies.

This is a rental of The Loft Cinema, presented by The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.