The present invention is a method of forming thick films of crystalline YBa.sub.2 Cu.sub.3 O.sub.7 that includes forming a precursor film comprising barium fluoride (BaF.sub.2), yttrium (Y) and copper (Cu). The precursor film is heat-treated at a temperature above 500.degree. C. in the presence of oxygen, nitrogen and water vapor at sub-atmospheric pressure to form a crystalline structure. The crystalline structure is then annealed at about 500.degree. C. in the presence of oxygen to form the crystalline YBa.sub.2 Cu.sub.3 O.sub.7 film. The YBa.sub.2 Cu.sub.3 O.sub.7 film formed by this method has a resistivity of from about 100 to about 600 .mu.Ohm-cm at room temperature and a critical current density measured at 77 K in a magnetic field of 1 Tesla of about 1.0.times.10.sup.5 Ampere per square centimeter (0.1 MA/cm.sup.2) or greater.