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San Francisco Blu-ray Review

“San Francisco” is saved by the ending.

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, “San Francisco” is a melodrama that leads up to the 1906 earthquake in the titular California city. The story revolves around a love triangle between a salon owner (Blackie), a wealthy man (Jack Burley), and a talented singer (Mary) that is being both wooed romantically and professionally by the two. There are also interwoven subplots about faith, politics, a fire (and fire laws), and Mary’s contract.

Aside from being a melodrama, 1936’s “San Francisco” is notable for being one of the earliest disaster movies. Indeed the climactic earthquake sequence (and its aftermath) is the sole reason to see this film. It’s a major feat for the time in terms of production values, special effects, editing, model work, and set design.It’s a really thrilling piece of moviemaking that makes you forget about the often eye rolling melodrama that precedes it. 

It’s often been said that “San Francisco” is the proto-”Titanic” and that is an accurate statement. The back and forth romance between Blackie and Mary might be romantic to some, but to others (like myself) it will have you shaking your head. It’s just so overdone and the religious messages tend to come across as preachy.

Although Spencer Tracy, Jack Holt, and Jeanette MacDonald make their best of their roles, this is Clark Gable’s movie through and through. His cocky charisma tends to be the only thing of interest as the viewer patiently waits for the earthquake to occur on screen.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? What a print! This hi-def transfer is nearly pristine. 

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A little snowy but satisfactory.

* Re-issue “San Francisco” trailer
* Alternate ending
* An MGM cartoon called “Bottles.”
* “Clark Gable: Tall, Dark And Handsome”- A 46 minute TNT special on the actor hosted by Liam Neeson.
* “Cavalcade Of San Francisco”- A short film about the Cali city.
* “Night Descends On Treasure Island”- Another short- this one about the Golden Gate Exposition.


February 15, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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