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San Francisco 1936
Description: A pretty singer and a battling priest test to reform a Barbary Coast saloon owner in the days before the large earthquake.
Released: 26 Jun 1936 Director: W.S. Van Dyke Writers: Anita Loos (screen play), Robert E. Hopkins (from the story by) Actors: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, Jack Holt Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance
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Top movies like San Francisco complete list given below.

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San Francisco Reviews:

Alongside "Gone With The Wind" MGM's SAN FRANCISCO (1936) is without doubt the finest romantic drama to emanate from Hollywood in the thirties. A film that had everything going for it - a splendid storyline and script, a magnificent star in Clark Gable, a pretty actress with an arresting singing voice in Jeanette MacDonald, unbelievable songs and an earthquake sequence that will not only knock your socks off but can stand up proudly beside anything that pc graphics can conjure up today. The picture also was the most sensational profit making film of 1936 speeding past "The Nice Ziegfeld" from the same year. Produced for the studio by John Emerson and Bernard Hyman it was directed with nice punch and attention to feature by W.S.Van Duke. The Perfectly handled screenplay was written by Anita Loos from a storyline by Robert Hopkins and the crisp monochrome cinematography was by Oliver T. Marsh.It is 1905 in San Fransico and Blackie Norton (Clark Gable) runs "The Paradise" a not too respectable night club on the rowdy Barbary Coast. A woman Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald) arrives in the town from the country looking for a job singing. She approaches Norton who interviews her and is very taken by both her beauty and her prowess as a singer. He hires her and in the following weeks they fall in love but Blackie comes up vs some tournament from Jack Burly (Jack Holt) the wealthy owner of the Tivoli opera house. Burly falls for Mary too and wants to purchase out her contract from Norton to have her sing in the opera. But Norton refuses and is not for turning. However after an altercation with Blackie she walks out on him and goes to the Tivoli where she becomes a singing sensation. Still in love with Blackie she however sees no future with him and just as she becomes engaged to Burly a tremendous earthquake wreaks havoc on the nice city. The picture ends with the death of thousands of citizens including Jack Burly and an injured Blackie searching through each bit of rubble for Mary before eventually finding her alive and well and leading the survivors singing the hymn "Nearer My God To Thee" in a makeshift camp outside the destroyed city.Performances are top notch throughout the movie. Gable is terrific as the flamboyant Blackie Norton. His role looking each bit like a dry run for his Rhett Butler three years later. Perfect too is the inviting and quite lovely Jeanette MacDonald. The vivacious lady is simply electric! She just lights up the screen and delights us with her mellifluous singing voice in renditions of arias from Gounod's FAUST, Verdi's LA TRAVIATA, Nacio Herb Brown's lovely WOULD YOU and the rousing game song SAN FRANCISCO written by Polish composer Bronislau Kaper who was just starting out on his illustrious movie melody career at MGM. The song would become a hit and remains to this day the city's favoured anthem. Of course the true star of the picture is the unique results with the climactic earthquake sequence. Designed and implemented by Russian montage expert Slavko Vorkapach it remains an nice achievement for thirties cinema which can still manage to excite and frighten today with just as much impact as anything in modern film.It is almost inconceivable that a seventy five year old film can remain such a firm favorite which it steadfastly has maintained over the years. The movie was nominated for four Acadamy Awards (winning one for sound recording), has a pretty screenplay, is wonderfully directed and besides the lovely songs from the pretty Miss MacDonald includes some moments of true charm especially the scenes with the two principles. SAN FRANCISCO is a nice and fascinating movie from vintage Hollywood and looks like it will continue to be one of the most fondly remembered films of all time.


John Hoffman (my father) was responsible for the Nice Earthquake stage and a number the another montage sequences in the film. A mate of his, the movie preservationist David Shepard, says me the movie had already been shot, but the studio execs weren't satisfied with it. So, they handed it over to the then head of MGM's Montage Department, John Hoffman, to see if he should salvage it. Hoffman rewrote, directed and edited many of the scenes. The result: five Oscar nominations (including 'Best Picture') and one victory ('Best Sound') – released in 1936, it preceded the introduction of the Oscar for Unique Results award by a several years.A several years ago, when the Academy Awards Ceremony featured a review of the best disaster movies ever made, I was disappointed to note that San Francisco hadn't been included. Still, from reading the reviews posted here, it's nice to see how many folks still appreciate it today.


"San Francisco", MGM's 'Showcase' movie of 1936, demonstrates why no another studio should 'touch' Metro at it's prime. Take the largest star in Hollywood, squad him with the 'Queen' of 1930s MGM musicals, add the best movie actor of a generation in support, then top things off with a 'no-expense-spared' recreation of the most popular earthquake in history, and an immediate Classic was born! Seventy years later, the movie has lost tiny of it's luster; certainly the 'Message' is a bit heavy-handed, the long opera sequences may create some viewers cringe, and some of the results (involving double exposures) seem quaint in an era of CGI...but Clark Gable still projects his signature cockiness and virility, Jeanette MacDonald is still radiant (and can sure belt out "San Francisco"), and Spencer Tracy is still superb (it is simple to see why he received a 'Best Actor' nomination, in what was obviously a helping role; he easy steals the film, in each stage he's in).Directed by the remarkable W.S. ('Woody') Van Dyke, a consummate craftsman, and one of MGM's fastest directors (contradictory terms, but he combined speed and style, effortlessly), with a screenplay, surprisingly, by future "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" author, Anita Loos (from a storyline by Robert Hopkins), "San Francisco" exudes confidence, from the riotously decadent Fresh Year's Eve, 1905, opening scene, to the finale, as Gable, MacDonald, Tracy, and, apparently, most of the survivors of the earthquake and fire march to a hilltop, vowing to build a 'better' city, and singing "The War Hymn of the Republic", as they view the smoking ruins, which dissolves into the 'modern' San Francisco of 1936.Corny? Certainly! But undeniably rousing, as well!



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