Edit
San Francisco (1936) Poster

(1936)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (1)
Clark Gable did not want to make the film but was at the mercy of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, who had just paid off one of Gable's numerous paramours.
29 of 29 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald did not get along at all during filming, and avoided each other completely off the set.
27 of 27 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Jeanette MacDonald personally chose Spencer Tracy for the second male lead. Previously Tracy had mainly been cast as heavies; this role completely turned his career around.
25 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Jeanette MacDonald brought the screenplay by Anita Loos to the attention of MGM head Irving Thalberg with the express idea that she should headline alongside Clark Gable. Thalberg readily agreed although Gable did not get along with MacDonald during filming. He objected to her singing at him and would eat garlic before their kissing scenes just to annoy her.
24 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The song "San Francisco"--written for the film--is now a popular anthem in the city and is sung on earthquake memorial days.
22 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy would go on to make two other films together, Test Pilot (1938) and Boom Town (1940). By the end of the filming of the latter, Tracy had tired of always receiving supporting billing below Gable and insisted on shared billing going forward. Gable did not agree with this and the two never worked together again.
20 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
To create the destructive nature of the earthquake, entire sets were built on hydraulic lifts and shakers which were then raised and rocked violently.
19 of 19 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
One of Mary's opera gowns was later used for "Glinda" in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
24 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
D.W. Griffith directed several scenes without ever being credited.
23 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The dress Jeanette MacDonald wears while singing "Would You" was re-worn by Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal (1942) (1942).
21 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Jeanette MacDonald's older sister, Blossom Rock, signed with MGM and was given the name Marie Blake. Jeanette's character in this film was named Mary Blake. Her sister used the name Blossom Rock when she played Grandma Addams on The Addams Family (1964).
20 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Erich von Stroheim, who had been unceremoniously fired from MGM many years earlier, contributed additional lines in the script without studio head Louis B. Mayer ever knowing.
20 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The comment that Spencer Tracy makes about the "Rooney kid" is an ad-lib (watch Jeanette MacDonald's expression reacting to it). Tracy had worked with Mickey Rooney earlier that year in Riffraff (1936) and knew that director W.S. Van Dyke abhorred retakes, priding himself on bringing in productions fast and under budget--hence his nickname, "One-Take Woody".
19 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This earned Spencer Tracy the first of his nine Oscar nominations.
24 of 26 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This and another M-G-M hit. The Great Ziegfeld, were the two top-grossing films of 1936.
22 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The entire shoot took place on MGM soundstages and the studio backlot.
11 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Al Shean (born Adolph Schoenberg), who plays the Professor in the film, was half of one of the most popular teams in vaudeville--Gallagher and Shean. He was also the younger brother of Minnie Marx, the matriarch of The Marx Brothers clan, and was instrumental in writing many of the sketches that his madcap nephews first performed on the vaudeville circuit before their enormous success on Broadway and in Hollywood.
19 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Spencer Tracy, playing a priest, makes a note to himself in one scene, "That Rooney kid skipped Mass again . . . " Two years later he again plays a priest in Boys Town (1938) who is tasked with reforming a boy played by Mickey Rooney.
21 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The film took 52 days to shoot at a cost of $1.3 million--an expensive film for its day.
13 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Before filming his first love scene with Jeanette MacDonald--whom he did not like and did not enjoy working with--Clark Gable reportedly filled up on a big spaghetti lunch. When the time came for him to kiss MacDonald, his breath was so bad from garlic that she nearly fainted.
12 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Spencer Tracy initially had qualms about appearing in the film because he was unsure about playing a priest. A devout Catholic, Tracy felt that he might be betraying his faith by trying to impersonate a priest for the movies. Ironically, two years later Tracy would win an Oscar for playing a priest in Boys Town (1938).
15 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The character of Blackie Norton was inspired by Wilson Mizner, a fellow writer of Robert E. Hopkins and Anita Loos, who had worked on Broadway and at Warner Brothers and had died several years earlier, He was a notorious huckster, con artist and womanizer, with connections in gambling and underworld circles.
11 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This film was designed as a vehicle for Jeanette MacDonald while her regular singing partner Nelson Eddy was off on a nationwide concert tour.
12 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The success of this film convinced Darryl F. Zanuck to set up his own disaster movie at 20th Century-Fox. In 1938, In Old Chicago (1938) teaming Don Ameche, Alice Faye and Tyrone Power, proved to be almost as big a hit with audiences as San Francisco
12 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
While writers Anita Loos and Robert E. Hopkins considered W.S. Van Dyke a director of considerable talent, they became worried shortly after filming had begun. "Van Dyke," said Loos, was "an oaf when it came to the subtleties of the San Francisco tenderloin. We were horrified watching Woody direct a scene where Blackie reproves an underworld sweetheart for wearing a gaudy necklace and, indicating it, said, 'Blackie told you not to wear that. It looks cheap.' Those words should have been tossed off gently and with a smile, as Wilson Mizner would have done. But Van Dyke caused our hero to jerk the necklace off the girl's throat with a brutality that cut into her skin and to bark out the dialogue in the manner of a hooligan. Not all of Gable's native charm could overcome the loutish behavior in which Van Dyke was directing him. We proceeded to [producer Bernard H. Hyman's] office to demand a retake. Bernie was surprised. 'Why, I thought the way Woody directed that scene was swell!' For over an hour Hoppy and I conjured up the spirit of [Irving Thalberg], explaining that one crass move on the part of our hero would cause the entire movie to flounder beyond recall. Bernie, bless his simple heart, finally got our viewpoint. He ordered the sequence reshot with Hoppy on the set to guide Van Dyke. Pacing the Alley the next day I said to Hoppy, 'When Irving died, he'd taken the studio to the top of a toboggan run. From now on there's only one direction MGM can go.' 'Babe, you just said a mouthful!,' Hoppy declared, thus repeating a phrase that he himself might have added to the English language."
11 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
At 14 minutes and 58 seconds, Spencer Tracy 's performance in this movie is the shortest to ever be nominated for a leading acting Oscar.
11 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Clark Gable got along with Spencer Tracy. They were close in age, both liked to tie one on, and the two managed to forge a friendship. Both possessed qualities that the other admired. Gable deeply respected Tracy's acting ability, and Tracy couldn't help but be envious of Gable's heartthrob status as a leading man.
14 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The first of three films in three successive years which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and Best Actor for Spencer Tracy. He would win Best Actor for the next two films: Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938).
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The song Jeanette MacDonald sings, entitled "Would You", would be later be sung by Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain (1952). But actually in that movie Debbie's singing of that particular song was dubbed by Betty Noyes.
10 of 13 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Film debut of Robert J. Wilke.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Jeanette MacDonald's commercial recording of the title song was not recorded nor released commercially until more than 13 years after the film was made, after the eminently successful 1948 re-release. It was included in an RCA Victor Red Seal album called "Romantic Moments" and marketed simultaneously in 33-1/3 rpm, 45-rpm and 78-rpm editions.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Perhaps a response by FOX to this successful disaster film, the following year's In Old Chicago (1938) is quite reminiscent of this film. Indeed, it's made in the same vein, where the much awaited Chicago fire also doesn't happen until the last few minutes, just like the San Francisco earthquake here happens only in the last few minutes of the film. Both movies also deal with romance betrayal and a cabaret singing female lead.
7 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
When he was awarded Best Sound Recording at the Academy Awards for this film, Douglas Shearer (brother of Norma Shearer) became the first person to win consecutive awards in the same category, after winning for Naughty Marietta (1935) the previous year.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Superstar Jeanette MacDonald scored another big hit for MGM in 1936 Rose-Marie (1936), with Nelson Eddy and James Stewart.
7 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Despite its realistic portrayal of the San Francisco earthquake, the movie San Francisco did not win the Academy Award for Best Special Effects, because the award did not exist at the time. To rectify this gap, the award was inaugurated in 1938.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
In the film, Blackie Norton (Clark Gable) runs for the office of Supervisor in the city of San Francisco, the same job Harvey Milk was to hold many decades later when he was assassinated.
10 of 26 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
When Jack offers Blackie a cigar, Blackie notes that it is a Cameo. This is a cigar that was introduced in 1884, has a smooth flavor and was the formally designated as the the official cigar of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. While the full size version has not been available for decades, a small cigarillo version is still available, costing approximately $17 each.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The process-server is played by Edgar Kennedy. He, along with his brother Tom, was a familiar face in films of the era. Edgar was best known for playing a comical straight man with a classic slow burn and he worked with the top comic actors of the day.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Mary tells Blackie that opera had been around for 150 years or so. In fact, it had been around for some 300 years. it first appeared in 1598 in Florence, Italy with "Dafne" by Jacopo Peri. Unfortunately, most of the opera was lost with just a fragment remaining. Within half a century, opera was well established in Germany and France as well.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The official death toll in San Francisco was about 700 but it is believed that the actual figure was between 2,000 and 3,000.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The scene in which Gable makes his pitch for MacDonald to "take me the way that I am" is written and shot nearly identically to the similar scene in Gone with the Wind where Gable finally proposes marriage to Vivien Leigh.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
When they made this film, Clark Gable was the #2 ranked box office star in America and MacDonald was 9th, which partially explains its enormous success. It was the first (and last) time the two stars would ever work together.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Clark Gable hated the final scene where he breaks down, and insisted he should only be filmed from behind while saying the "soppy" lines.
21 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed