Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) presents "SAN FRANCISCO" (1936) (115 min/B&W) -- Starring: Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jeanette MacDonald, Jack Holt, Jessie Ralph & Ted Healy
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke
The story begins on the Barbary Coast on New Year's Eve, 1906, as rakish but likable 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).
One of MGM's biggest hits, remaining in almost constant reissue for the next three decades.
Oscar Winner for Best Sound. Oscar Nominated for Best Picture, Actor (Spencer Tracy), Director, Assistant Director & Writing.
An astounding achievement in special effects for its time.
This is the first pairing of those two "mega-stars": Clark Gable & Spencer Tracy. They were to appear together on two further occasions - Test Pilot (1938) & Boom Town (1940)
1. W.S. Van Dyke (Director)
Date of Birth: 21 March 1889 - San Diego, California
Date of Death: 5 February 1943 - Brentwood, California
2. Clark Gable
Date of birth: 1 February 1901 - Cadiz, Ohio,
Date of death: 16 November 1960 - Los Angeles, California
3. Spencer Tracy (aka: Spencer Bonaventure Tracy)
Date of birth: 5 April 1900 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
Date of death: 10 June 1967 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
4, Jeanette MacDonald
Date of Birth: 18 June 1903 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 14 January 1965 - Houston, Texas
5. Jack Holt [aka: Charles John Holt]
Date of Birth: 31 May 1888 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 18 January 1951 - Sawtelle, Los Angeles, California
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 115 min on DVD ~ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) ~ (June 20, 2006)