San Francisco

San Francisco

Director: W.S. Van Dyke Cast: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy

DVD (B&W / Full Frame)

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The MGM historical "spectacular" San Francisco was allegedly based on a three-sentence synopsis, submitted verbally to producer B.F. Zeidman by studio troubleshooter Bob Hopkins. The story begins on the Barbary Coast on New Year's Eve, 1906, as rakish but likeable political boss Blackie Norton (Clark Gable) hires demure young singer Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald) to perform at his rowdy Paradise gambling house. Local priest Father Mullin (Spencer Tracy), Blackie's best friend, disapproves of the exploitation of the lovely Mary, feeling that she's suited for classier surroundings. Jack Hurley (Jack Holt), Nob Hill socialite and Blackie's political rival, agrees with Father Mullin and offers the girl the opportunity to sing with the San Francisco Opera. Blackie, who's fallen in love with Mary but won't admit it to himself, jealously holds on to her contract, forcing Mary to walk out on him. For the rest of the film, Mary is torn between the "respectable" lifestyle offered her by Hurley and the baser creature comforts provided by Blackie. It looks for a while that Hurley has won out, but fate takes a hand in the form of the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of April 18, 1906 (a special effects tour de force for art directors Arnold Gillespie and his uncredited associate James Basevi). Hurley is killed in the holocaust, while Blackie, desperately searching for Mary in the rubble, at long last finds religion and prays to God for his sweetheart's salvation. At the end, an unidentified bit player shouts defiantly "We'll build a new San Francisco!" -- and by golly, they do! The Hollywood censors were not so much bothered by the sexual subtext of San Francisco or its harrowing earthquake finale as they were by a scene in which Father Mullin is knocked down by an unrepentant Blackie. To "purify" this potentially blasphemous sequence, screenwriter Anita Loos quickly added an earlier scene in which Mullin and Blackie, both dressed in turtleneck sweaters, genially duke it out at an exercise gym, whereupon the priest cold-cocks Blackie with the greatest of ease. By establishing that Mullin could have punched out Blackie, but chooses not to in the controversial later scene, not only allows that scene to pass, but also strengthened the priest's character. San Francisco proved to be one of MGM's biggest hits, remaining in almost constant reissue for the next three decades.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/20/2006
UPC: 0012569528826
Original Release: 1936
Rating: NR
Source: Warner Home Video
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [B&W]
Time: 1:55:00
Sales rank: 11,723

Special Features

Closed Caption; Alternate ending sequence ; Documentary profile Clark Gable: Tall, Dark & Handsome, Hosted by Liam Neeson; 2 vintage Fitzpatrick traveltalk shorts: Cavalcade of San Francisco; Night Descends on Treasure Island; Classic cartoon bottles; Theatrical trailer; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature film only)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Clark Gable Blackie Norton
Jeanette MacDonald Mary Blake
Spencer Tracy Father Tim Mullin
Jack Holt Jack Burley
Jessie Ralph Mrs. Burley
Ted Healy Mat
Shirley Ross Trixie
Margaret Irving Della Bailey
Harold Huber Babe
Al Shean Professor
William Ricciardi Signor Baldini
Kenneth Harlan Chick
Roger Imhof Alaska
Charles Judels Tony
Russell Simpson Red Kelly
Bert Roach Freddie Duane
Warren Hymer Hazeltine
Edgar Kennedy Sheriff
Jean Acker Actor
King Baggot Actor
Fritzi Brunette Actor
Helene Chadwick Actor
Naomi Childers Actor
George Pat Collins Bartender
Flora Finch Actor
George Guhl Actor
Cy Kendall Headwaiter
Rosemary Theby Actor
Ortho Wright Fireman
Maude Allen Elderly Woman
Oscar Apfel Founders' Club Member
Sam Ash Orchestra Leader
Ruth Gillette Actor
Gertrude Astor Drunk's Girl
Irving Bacon Picnicker
Jane Barnes Girl
Vince Barnett Drunk
Jack Baxley Kinko
Nyas Berry Dancer
Sidney Bracey Burley's Butler
James Brewster Stooge
Tommy Bupp Bill
Orrin Burke Pompous Man
Richard Carle Founders' Club Member
Adrienne D'Ambricourt Mme. Albani
Nigel de Brulier Old Man
Vernon Dent Fat Man
Tom Dugan Drunk
Edward Earle Bit Man
Jim Farley Charlie, Police Captain
Chester Gan Jowl Lee
Bud Geary Man Restraining Blackie after Quake
Sherry Hall Well-Wisher
Edward Hearn Parishioner
John Kelly Kelly
Jack Kennedy Mike, Old Irishman in Church
Ralph Lewis Members of Founders' Club
Wilbur Mack Bartender
James Macklin Young Man
George Magrill A Marine
Frank Mayo Dealer
Tom McGuire Bartender
Bob McKenzie Messenger
John Miller Man on Stretcher
Belle Mitchell Mary's Maid
Bruce Mitchell Heckler
Harry Myers Reveler
William Newell Man in Breadline
Bill O'Brien Waiter
Spec O'Donnell Man Praying
Pat O'Malley Fireman
John Pearson Stooge
Jason Robards Father
Beatrice Roberts Forrestal Guest
Henry Roquemore Drinker
Don Rowan Coast Type
Frank Sheridan Founders' Club Member
Helen Shipman Bit
Carl Stockdale Salvation Army Man
Harry Strang Soldier
Charles Sullivan Fire Spectator
Ben Taggart Cop
David Thursby Man
Tudor Williams Mephistopheles
Dennis O'Keefe New Year's Celebrant

Technical Credits
W.S. Van Dyke Director
Adrian Costumes/Costume Designer
James Basevi Special Effects
John Emerson Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Art Director,Special Effects
Tom Held Editor
Robert Hopkins Screenwriter
Bernard Hyman Producer
Anita Loos Screenwriter
Oliver Marsh Cinematographer
Harry McAfee Art Director
Val Raset Choreography
Herbert Stothart Musical Direction/Supervision
Erich Von Stroheim Screenwriter
Edward Ward Score Composer
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- San Francisco
1. Credits and Foreword [1:54]
2. Fiery New Year [3:21]
3. Blackie's Place [3:08]
4. Fair Set of Pipes [1:47]
5. Welcome for the Night [4:08]
6. San Francisco [5:45]
7. A Heart That's Free [3:36]
8. Mary's Admirers [4:13]
9. The Holy City [2:38]
10. The Good in Blackie [3:47]
11. Candidate With Punch [3:48]
12. Sucker Competition [2:58]
13. Would You? [4:19]
14. You and I Together [4:13]
15. No Place for Mary [2:56]
16. First Nighters [4:27]
17. The Jewel Song [2:46]
18. Mary's Triumph [3:52]
19. Blackie's Proposal [3:21]
20. Broken Apart [4:53]
21. Aristocratic Maisie [4:58]
22. Shut Down [3:09]
23. Sempre Libera [3:16]
24. Chicken's Ball [4:43]
25. San Francisco [3:32]
26. Award Refused [2:02]
27. Earthquake! [1:44]
28. Out of the Rubble [2:33]
29. Aftershock [2:34]
30. Searching for Mary [5:56]
31. Finding Father Tim [3:15]
32. Finding Mary and God [5:26]

Customer Reviews

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San Francisco 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The wait was long for this to get on DVD,and what a pleasure it is to have it at last.The movie is excellent in showing us howClark Gable became the legend he was. Ofcourse the special effects are amazing forthe time period, but an on-screen Gable withhis rogish-ways and expressions, theinteraction with Spencer Tracy are what makethe picture special. A true black and whiteclassic. The extras included in the DVDare a treat also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Out of all the films that I've seen with him, this is Clark Gable's other shining moment, along with "Gone With The Wind". Jeanette MacDonald also shines without her usual singing partner, Nelson Eddy (where's a DVD box set of their films?). Spencer Tracy's Father Mullin is one of his best supporting roles that lead him on to better things. The special effects of the great 1906 earthquake are phenominal for 1936 in comparison of what is done now in the digital age. Though only in Dolby 1.0, the earthquake sound is enhanced if you watch using Digital Sound, so you get a feel for it, much like you do (though milder) in the 1974 disaster film, EARTHQUAKE, and what they did with Sensurround. With recent digital technology in sound, it would have added to San Francisco to also offer the low-bass rumblings on the 5.1 surround tracks, along with the original soundtrack out of your front speakers, for a pow-effect for this 70 year old gem. Two things about the print of the film. In recent VHS releases and TCM broadcasts, the B&W seems too light, and during the outdoor portions of the earthquake scenes, it looks like midday vs. 5:13AM. With the print used in this DVD version, the outdoor quake scenes seem tinted correctly as if it were sunrise. However, other parts of the film still have scratches and fades, so not a fully restored digital picture. All the special features are excellent. The TNT broadcast of Clark Gable: Tall, Dark & Handsome, narrated by Liam Neeson, is very good, and one profile I have not seen before on Mr. Gable. Though without explanation as to when or why it was used, the Alternate Ending shows more scenes of San Francisco from 1936 and the progress of regrowth since the 1906 disaster. The Bay Bridge is almost ready to be opened, the Golden Gate Bridge is under construction (towers up and cables started, no suspended roadway constructed when this film was shot), and other buildings & streets bustling with activity. Seeing this alternate ending solved a mystery for me, as I remember seeing this ending the first time I saw the film in full on TV in the 70s, but hadn't seen this ending since. The two color Voice Of The Globe shorts on San Francisco from that era are excellent as well. My score would have been a perfect 5 if the film had a much-better restored print. Otherwise, well worth your time, and a must for fans of Gable, MacDonald, and the infamous Spencer Tracy.