San Francisco (1936) and The Art of Disaster

3 thoughts on “San Francisco (1936) and The Art of Disaster”

  1. Interesting insight, Carley. I honestly never noticed that the actual disaster sequence was completely “divorced” from the protagonists. I wonder what the thought process was when the film was being written and shot. Was it still too close to the actual event to “personalize” it with characters from the story? I don’t know, but 30 years seems like more than enough distance to add fictional characters! The filmmakers must have decided to do it the way they did in order to concentrate on the horrific nature of the event itself.

    Like you, I was never a fan of Jeanette MacDonald until I saw “The Merry Widow” a few years ago (on TCM) and especially her earlier work at Paramount. Totally changed my attitude toward her. I actually watched most of yesterday’s tribute up until “SF” which I’ve seen many times before. I’m not knowledgeable about opera, but with a face and figure like that, and a sweet vulnerability she displays at her best, I’ve haven’t paid alot of attention to the voice! There are many times when I see a film with one of the great beauties of the period, especially the blondes and redheads like Harlow, Rogers, Blondell, even the adorable Una Merkel, or blue (and grey)-eyed brunettes like Kay Francis, and curse Black and White filmmaking wishing they had been photgraphed in Technicolor. With much of MacDonald’s MGM work (which was nearly all “big-budget,” but which I don’t think is her best otherwise), we at least have one of the stars of that period not frozen for eternity in B&W.

  2. Hey!

    Nick from here. Doing some scout work for the LAMB. We’re wanting to make an email newsletter for community features as well as a list we’re making similar to Sight & Sound’s best movies of all time list. Just need an email! Email me at npowe131 at

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