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William A. Wellman
Edward G. Robinson,
Frisco Jenny was orphaned by the 1906 earthquake and fire and has become the madame of a prosperous bawdy house. She puts her son up for adoption and he rises to prominence as district attorney dedicated to closing down such houses. When her underling Dutton proposes telling the DA that Frisco Jenny is his birth mother, she kills the underling not to cause trouble for her son now the successful DA, she must face execution. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Familiar plot with excellent directing and acting gives several lessons
At this writing, Ruth Chatterton has been gone nearly 50 years but, as someone else here wrote, she deserves to be rediscovered.
She gives a marvelous performance in this gritty down-to-earth film that offers several lessons: Wild Bill Wellman was a great director; Ruth Chatterton was a superb actress, a woman of a different appeal than the fluffier types; vices ought not to be made crimes.
Nearly all of the problems suffered by the characters in "Frisco Jenny" would not have been there if the rowdy Barbary Coast character of San Francisco had not been changed by the blue-noses.
"Nearly all" because the terrible earthquake of 1906 wreaked its own havoc, and I believe "Frisco Jenny" presents the best motion picture version of that particular killer. Some of the footage must have been from newsreels taken at the time. Spectacular and horrifying.
Yes, some of the premises of "Frisco Jenny" had been used before and have been again, but that in no way detracts from the drama and heartbreak presented here.
There is a superlative cast, including such greats as Harold Huber and Louis Calhern in a great and mostly sympathetic role.
Two wonderful actresses don't get screen credit, but will always live in my heart: Dorothy Granger and Gertrude Astor; and Wild Bill himself also has an uncredited bit, as does Syd Saylor who is more readily identifiable.
And listen for the legendary Clarence Muse.
This is one you ought to see.
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