San Francisco (1936) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario are rivals for the affections of a beautiful singer, both personally and professionally in 1906 San Francisco.

  • 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 $10,000 prize which Blackie throws to the floor. As she storms out of the hall a terrible rumble betokens the famous San Francisco earthquake. Buildings collapse, streets split wide open, the city burns, the army dynamites whole sections of town. After staggering around in a stupor Blackie finds Father Tim and the two of them find Mary at a Salvation Army camp. Backed by hundreds of others, they look out over the ruins which are gradually replaced by the shining new city with a reprise of the title song.

  • On 31 December 1905, a fire destroys a building at Barbary Coast and on the next day, the singer Mary Blake from Benson, Colorado, that lived in the burnt building looks for a job at the nightclub Paradise. The owner Blackie Norton is a ruthless but good man and hires Mary after asking her to show her legs. Blackie is also invited to run to the position of Supervisor of the Coast by his friends and acquaintances. When Blackie's competitor from Nob Hill, Jack Burley, and his friend Maestro Baldini, hear Mary singing, Jack invites her to sing at his fancy Tivoli Opera House. However, Mary has a two-year contract signed with Blackie and is in love with him. But when the other artists from Paradise see her with Blackie and make malicious comments about her, she quits and goes to Tivoli. On her debut at the Tivoli, Blackie goes there with an authority to call off the concert. Blackie has an injunction against Jack Burley since Mary is still under contract with him. However, when he hears Mary singing the opera, he changes his mind and proposes her to get married with him. Mary returns to the Paradise but when Blackie's friend Father Tim Mullin sees Mary exposing her legs, he does not allow her to go to the stage. Mary works at Tivoli and is proposed by Jack Burley to marry him. Meanwhile the powerful Jack Burley uses his influence with the Powers that Be to close the Paradise and arrest the performers. During a musical competition between the clubs, Mary Blake helps the Paradise with her presentation. However, it is 1906, the year of the major earthquake that struck San Francisco.


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