One of my favorite movies that was made in Sedona is “Angel and the Badman.” This was the first film that John Wayne starred in and produced. Republic let him start producing, because they feared losing him to another studio. His co-star was Gail Russell. The supporting cast included Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot, Irene Rich and Lee Dixon. James Edward Grant wrote the screen play and directed. The filming started the middle of April and continued until late June of 1946. The film premiered in February of 1947.
In the film, John Wayne is Quirk Evans, the ‘badman,’ who is nursed back to health by a Quaker family after being shot and falling from his horse. As he recuperates he learns about the family’s moral values and religious beliefs. Of course, a romance starts with the daughter, Penny, played by Gail Russell. Quirk’s friend, Randy McCall, played by Lee Dixon, shows up and Quirk tries to return to his previous life, but is drawn back to Penny and her simpler life style. Harry Carey plays Marshal Wistful McClintock. The film was well received, even though it was a little different than other westerns of the time.
Gail Russell was extremely shy and had stage fright, which she used alcohol to overcome. Her mother had pushed her to acting while she was still in high school. During this movie, Russell was under contract with Paramount and was loaned to Republic Pictures. John Wayne befriended Russell and tried to help her. John Wayne had married Esperanza “Chata” Baur shortly before this film was made and she was jealous of his relationship with Gail Russell, but Wayne denied any affair. Wayne continued his friendship with Russell after the filming and got her roles in other movies. However, she succumbed to alcoholism and died in 1961, at the age of 36.
A western town set was erected for “Angel and the Badman.” It was located by Coffee Pot Rock in West Sedona. The set continued to be used for movies until it was torn down in 1959, to make way for a new residential community. The neighborhood named the streets after some of the movies that were made in Sedona. The studio also built a sound stage to film the interior scenes, which was used by the movie industry until 1966.
The cast and crew stayed at the Sedona Lodge, which was a converted CCC Camp. It stood on State Route 179, where the Kings Ransom Hotel is today. The Sedona Lodge was demolished in 1964.
Bob Bradshaw took several photos during the filming of “Angel and the Badman,” which are available at Sedona Photo and Sedona Olde Time Photos. You can also see them online at Fine Art America.