film 2 of 4

San Francisco

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

We skipped all the melodrama before the earthquake, which is a towering accomplishment in special effects, and which is cut as fragmentedly, as vividly, and as successfully (at least on a visceral level) as the best Soviet stuff, of course this means very little, and though there’s poignancy in Blackie’s long search through the ruins, and in the vignettes of tragedy that he comes across there, the conclusionis still tacked on and laughable: the fire appears to stop because Gable’s decided to pray, little Jeanette’s mannered soprano rises from the rubble, and then, as strains of that obnoxious battle hymn continue, we cut to the modern metropolis, just like in Mother (!), suggesting that this was made from that, except that unlike Pudovkin’s film, “that” amounts to mere pluckiness and spurious piety, which maybe explains California of a period after all