I Left My Heart in San Francisco
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
Sharing San Francisco Treats

Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake.

  • Jun 27, 2010
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This was a film I had never even heard of before.  "San Francisco" stars Clark Gable as Blackie Norton, proprietor of the notorious "Paradise Saloon".  Norton has his fingers in lots of pies around the city and is always on the lookout for #1.   He meets talented young singer Mary Blake (Jeannette MacDonald) who shows up at his joint one evening looking for work.  He is immediately smitten with the naive young lady and sets out to make her a headliner at the Paradise.  The only problem is that she posseses a concert quality set of pipes and the local opera company is interested in her services as well.   Too bad that Blackie has managed to get the young lady to sign a two year exclusive contract with him.   Now just to make things interesting and to introduce a wee bit of morality into the mix we have a very young Spencer Tracy cast as Blackie Norton's lifelong friend Father Mullin.  The two grew up together and Father Mullin has been trying to get Blackie to change his evil ways for years.  Good luck.  An interesting storyline is sprinkled with some terrific tunes sung by the multi-talented MacDonald who was one of the top singers of her era.   Towards the end of the movie is one of the most remarkable disaster sequences you will ever see:  the Earthquake of 1906.  Quite an accomplishment in 1936 when "San Francisco" was filmed. 
Much like "Gone With The Wind" "San Francisco" is a thoroughly entertaining movie that offers viewers a little bit of everything. This is a movie I could see again and again. Pick it up sometime and see if you agree.    Very highly recommended!

Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake. Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake. Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake. Life in the city in the days preceding the great 1906 earthquake.

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August 26, 2010
Great review, I vaguely remember seeing this movie several years ago, very good acting.
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this movie


San Francisco is a 1936 film based on the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The film, which was the top grossing movie of that year,[1] stars Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy. The then very popular singing of MacDonald helped make this film a hit, coming on the heels of her other 1936 blockbuster (Rose Marie). Tracy knocked Gable down during a boxing match in the film, aiding his career. The film was directed by Woody Van Dyke. The Internet Movie Database reports that famous silent film directors D. W. Griffith and Erich Von Stroheim contributed to the screenplay without screen credit. Griffith also helped direct the famous earthquake sequence.[2]

Blackie" Norton (Clark Gable), a gambling hall tycoon in the notorious Barbary Coast, hires a promising, but impoverished classically-trained singer from Colorado, Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald). She becomes a star attraction, and a romance develops between them. Complications arise when she is offered an opportunity to sing in the opera. Meanwhile, Blackie's childhood friend, Roman Catholic Father Tim Mullen (Spencer Tracy), keeps trying to reform him, while the other nightclub owners attempt to convince Norton to run for the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors in order to protect their crooked interests.

Despite Father Tim's best efforts, Blackie remains a jaunty Barbary Coast atheist until the famous 1906 earthquake devastates the city. He "finds God" upon discovering ...

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