Wednesday, December 15, 2010

San Francisco (1936)

New Year's Day 1906. San Francisco. The catastrophic earthquake is three and a half months away. Clark Gable stars as Blackie Norton, a local club owner, who discovers and subsequently falls in love with a talented new singer. A rivalry ensues between Blackie and an opera house owner who wants the girl to sing for him instead.

Blackie's 1930's passive sexism makes him hard to root for, but he is also an honest and charitable man. And, as noted in the special features on the DVD, Gable "was 'cool' before the word was invented."

It was Spencer Tracy, however, not Gable who received an Oscar nomination in the film for his role as the local priest and Blackie's lifelong friend. Though in my opinion he didn't have near enough screen time to be nominated in the lead acting category and Gable was obviously the protagonist of the story. Also nominated was director W.S. Van Dyke who also helmed the well-known Thin Man series.

The movie won the Oscar for best sound which it undoubtedly earned from a combination of its musical numbers and the destruction of the city when the earthquake hits, throwing in a plot twist that would be insulting if it had not been so rooted in a very real tragedy.

90 to go...

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