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>
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 »
I'm going to stay.
That's right. You're in probably the wickedest, most corrupt city, most Godless city in America. Sometimes it frightens me. I wonder what the end's going to be. But nothing can harm you if you don't allow it to because nothing in the world, no one in the world, is all bad.
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You can't go wrong with the pairing of two of the great stars of Hollywood, Gable and Tracy......and the great star of the west coast, San Francisco. The role of Blackie Norton may be one of Gable's best, so cynical,so devil-may-care and just a little bit dangerous. Tracy play the understanding priest with his usual aplomb. As he told someone once "Don't ever let them catch you acting".
Gable's attraction to Jeanette McDonald is a little bit unbelievable. She really did belong with Jack Holt in this film......or better yet Nelson Eddy should have showed up at the last minute and swept her away with a song. Gable and McDonald don't mesh at all and there was not much chemistry between them although I must admit she is lovely. Be that as it may, the film is one of the best of Hollywood's mid-30's offerings. There is something for everyone; music, drama, comedy and the finale of the earthquake which is what we are waiting for. And what a spectacle it is!! It is very well done in those days before sophisticated special effects; with tumbling buildings, crashing walls and the inevitable fire. There are a couple of poignant scenes when the firefighters must blow up buildings and homes to control the fire thus destroying lifetimes of work and memories.
The ending is a little bit over the top as those who have lost their families and all that they own, joyously sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic and march up the hill to view the destruction (I'm not sure I would be that upbeat)......but it is still effective. The fade to the modern day (1936) San Francisco is just the right ending note. I highly recommend this film, not only for the Gable/Tracy pairing but also for the general excellence of the production.
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