An elderly Miss Morrison recounts her life as the once young and beautiful opera singer Marcia Morney-then the toast of Napoleon III's Paris. One evening, she encounters an American voice ... See full summary »
Robert Z. Leonard
Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Spencer Tracy initially had qualms about appearing in the film because he was unsure about playing a priest. A devout Catholic, Tracy felt that he might be betraying his faith by trying to impersonate a priest for the movies. Ironically, two years later Tracy would win an Oscar for playing a priest in Boys Town (1938). See more »
As Jack Burley walks past a piano backstage at the opera, there is a copy of "The Hollywood Reporter" propped up on the piano. This publication first appeared in 1930. See more »
"Tell Me You're the Heart of All the Golden West."
MGM's blockbuster was conceived originally as a vehicle for Jeanette MacDonald to co-star with some non-singing players while her normal screen partner Nelson Eddy was on a concert tour. Mr. Eddy always considered his screen roles secondary to his concert singing which was the reverse of how Jeanette felt.
According to a recent book about both Eddy and MacDonald, Clark Gable had been gotten out of romantic dalliance with some hush money MGM paid some woman off with. He didn't really want to do the film, but Louis B. Mayer kind of hammerlocked him into it. MacDonald however chose Spencer Tracy for the part of Father Tim Mullin, Gable's best friend and conscience of the movie.
Nevertheless the part of Blackie Norton, impresario of the Barbary Coast in 1906 San Francisco fits Gable perfectly. The man takes his pleasures where he finds them, but has a concern for the folks in his area who are getting the raw end of things from the upper crust on Nob Hill as personified by Gable's rival Jack Holt.
Gable and Holt are rivals for Jeanette MacDonald as well. She's fresh from the country, a parson's daughter with a great set of soprano pipes. Both like what they see, but Holt appreciates her voice quite a bit more than Gable at first.
Besides Ms. MacDonald, Gable and Holt have their differences over some of the rottenly constructed houses on the Barbary Coast and Gable wants a lot of new construction there. Of course the Earthquake of April 18, 1906 settles the whole issue of urban renewal.
If the special effects Oscar was around at that time, San Francisco would have won it for sure. Even over 60 years after the film came out and with the more modern techniques of special effects available, the sight of the earthquake is still visually stunning.
Gable and MacDonald did not get along on the set, Gable was more used to down to earth leading ladies like Crawford and Harlow. MacDonald and Tracy got along just fine. Her intercession with Louis B. Mayer changed the course of Tracy's career forever. Previous to San Francisco, Tracy played a whole slew of roughneck heroes in B films at Fox and his first few at MGM were in the same mold. As Father Tim Mullin, Tracy became the wise father figure (no pun intended) that the public came to know so well. He received his first Academy Award nomination for this part.
Jeanette has some operatic selections and three hymns to sing during the film, The Holy City, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Nearer My God to Thee. She also got two original songs, Would You and the title tune of the film.
The song San Francisco was adopted by the city fathers of San Francisco as the city's official song. That is until Tony Bennett lost his heart there. Controversy still rages on the bay as to which should be the official song of San Francisco.
San Francisco made a whole lot of money for Leo the Lion that year. It in fact inspired Darryl F. Zanuck to burn down Chicago the following year so he could get in on that disaster epic box office.
San Francisco still holds up well today, the action, the music, and Spencer Tracy's groundbreaking performance. Something for everyone.
24 of 33 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?