67 user 19 critic

San Francisco (1936)

Unrated | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 26 June 1936 (USA)
A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario are rivals for the affections of a beautiful singer, both personally and professionally in 1906 San Francisco.




(screen play), (from the story by) (as Robert Hopkins)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Signor Baldini
Roger Imhof ...
Tony (as Charles Judells)


Mary Blake arrives at Blackie Norton's Paradise gambling hall and beer garden looking for work as a singer. Blackie embarrasses her by asking to see her legs, but does hire her. She faints from hunger. Nob Hill Socialite Jack Burley and Maestro Baldini of the Tivoli Opera House see her singing and offer her a chance to do opera, but Blackie has her under a two-year contract which she sorrowfully stands by. Later, when he makes up posters featuring Mary in tights, she does leave for the Tivoli. Blackie gets an injunction against Burley, but knocks out the process server when he hears Mary's performance as Marguerite in "Faust". She asks her to marry him and she agrees to go back to the Paradise as his kind of singer, but Blackie's childhood chum Father Tim intervenes. After Blackie slugs the priest, Mary leaves. She is soon the star of the Tivoli and Blackie's place is closed down. She sings a rousing "San Francisco" on behalf of the Paradise at the annual "Chicken Ball" and wins the ... Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Fell In Love . . . with the toughest guy on the toughest street in the world ! See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 June 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Cidade do Pecado  »

Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Clark Gable got along with Spencer Tracy. They were close in age, both liked to tie one on, and the two managed to forge a friendship. Both possessed qualities that the other admired. Gable deeply respected Tracy's acting ability, and Tracy couldn't help but be envious of Gable's heartthrob status as a leading man. See more »


The song "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!", heard during New Year's Eve, was not written until 1917. See more »


Blackie Norton: Well sister, what's your racket?
Mary Blake: I'm a singer!
Blackie Norton: Let's see your legs!
Mary Blake: I said, I'm a singer!
See more »


Spoofed in The Carol Burnett Show: Episode #11.2 (1977) See more »


Happy New Year
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Performed by Shirley Ross
See more »

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User Reviews

Hold onto your seats!
3 November 1998 | by (Seattle, Wa.) – See all my reviews

SAN FRANCISCO is a major Hollywood production from the 1930's, From the Boldness of the opening credits, along with a rousing rendition of the tune by the same name, the viewer suspects that they are going to witness a special movie event.

The plot is a rather forthright formula story of a tug-of-war romance between bad boy Clark Gable (Blackie Nortion, saloon owner) and mama's boy Jack Holt (Jack Burley, scion of a well-to -do family) for the affections of singer Jeanette MacDonald (Mary Blake, beautiful, virginal). It's also a story of good vs. evil, the good portrayed by Spencer Tracy as a Catholic Priest.

But it's the hard-hitting script and it's crisp dialogue, the recreation of a turn-of-the-Century San Francisco, the great acting, the music, and the fabulous Earthquake sequences that make this show the classic that it is.

SAN FRANCISCO is a tale of contrasts. On one hand the Barbary Coast with it's bars and bordellos, yet on the other hand we have a city of the fine arts, opera, and the Nob Hill elite. We have the rich, the spendthrifts, and also the poor who seek shelter in the Mission Houses.

The acting of Clark Gable cannot go unmentioned. His Blackie Norton is the most mockingly amoral character, proud of his lack of religious faith..... relying only on himself. Yet as Father Mullin (Tracy) says at one point in the movie, "Do you know who gave the chapel that organ we've been dedicating tonight? The most scoffing, unbelieving, and godless soul in all San Francisco, ..Blackie Norton. Cost him over $4,000......Don't tell him I told you. Blackie's like that, ashamed of his good deeds as most men are ashamed of their bad."

The famous 1906 Earthquake is a real show-stopper. Entire sets were hoisted on hydraulic lifts and rockers, and literally shaken down. VERY REALISTIC. I would have reservations about showing this picture to kids under 10 years of age. They may develop a neurotic fear of earthquakes following this one.

Enjoy and re-enjoy.

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