Old San Francisco

Last updated

Old San Francisco
Poster - Old San Francisco 01.jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Crosland
Written byJack Jarmuth (titles)
Screenplay by Anthony Coldeway
Story by Darryl F. Zanuck
Starring Dolores Costello
Cinematography Hal Mohr
Edited by Harold McCord
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 21, 1927 (1927-06-21)(NYC)
  • September 4, 1927 (1927-09-04)(US)
[1]
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguagesSilent
English intertitles
Vitaphone sound effects
Budget$300,000 [2]
Box office$638,000 [2]

Old San Francisco is a 1927 American silent historical drama film starring Dolores Costello and featuring Warner Oland. The film, which was produced and distributed by Warner Bros., was directed by Alan Crosland.

Contents

Plot

Chris Buckwell, cruel and greedy czar of San Francisco's Tenderloin District, is heartless in his persecution of the Chinese, though he himself is secretly a half-caste, part Chinese and part European. Buckwell, eager to possess the land of Don Hernández Vásquez, sends Michael Brandon, an unscrupulous attorney, to make an offer. Brandon's nephew, Terrence, meets the grandee's beautiful daughter, Dolores, while Vásquez refuses the offer. Terry tries to save the Vásquez land grants, but when Chris causes the grandee's death, Dolores takes an oath to avenge her father. Learning that Chris is half Chinese, Dolores induces his feeble-minded dwarf brother to denounce him; he captures her and Terry, but they are saved from white slavery by the great earthquake of 1906 that kills the villain. [3]

Cast

Production

The film was released in a silent version and in a Vitaphone version, with sound-on-disc recording of music and sound effects only. It was the fifth Warner Brothers feature film to have Vitaphone musical accompaniment. Just one month later, on October 6, Warner Bros. released The Jazz Singer with music, sound effects, and spoken dialogue. Warner Bros. later reused some of the footage from Old San Francisco for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake sequence in The Sisters (1938). [4] This is Charles Emmett Mack's final film appearance; he was killed in an automobile accident six months prior to the film's release. [5]

Reception and box office

The film was a commercial success but it was considered a sub-par feature for its salacious elements. The New York Post called it "violently melodramatic and preposterous in the extreme -- and one of the silliest pictures ever made." [3]

A slightly later reviewer wondered cynically why it had not been censored: "Just as the villain is giving thanks to Buddha, the San Francisco earthquake intervenes to save [Dolores and Terry], thus explaining a catastrophe that cost many lives. Old San Francisco was not censored because it satisfied the one great tenet of the movie censors: 'God is a force in the world that moves to preserve Christian virginity.' " [6]

According to Warner Bros records the film earned $466,000 domestically and $172,000 foreign. [2]

Preservation status

A print of the film still exists at the Library of Congress, George Eastman House and Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, as well as its Vitaphone soundtrack and has been restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in association with other organizations such as the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art. And was released on manufactured-on-demand DVD by the Warner Archive Collection series on September 15, 2009. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Glorious Betsy</i> 1928 film

Glorious Betsy is a 1928 silent film with talking sequences. It is based on the 1908 play of the same name by Rida Johnson Young, and it stars Dolores Costello. It was produced by Warner Bros. and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Adaptation in 1929. The film was directed by Alan Crosland with cinematography by Hal Mohr. A mute print of this film survives in the Library of Congress, and while the copy is missing some of the sound reels, it's unknown whether other copies of the sound have been preserved elsewhere. Vitaphone track survive incomplete at UCLA Film and Television Archive.

<i>Don Juan</i> (1926 film) 1926 film by Alan Crosland

Don Juan is a 1926 American romantic adventure film directed by Alan Crosland. It is the first feature-length film to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system with a synchronized musical score and sound effects, though it has no spoken dialogue. The film is inspired by Lord Byron's 1821 epic poem of the same name. The screenplay was written by Bess Meredyth with intertitles by Maude Fulton and Walter Anthony.

<i>Noahs Ark</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

Noah's Ark is a 1928 American epic romantic melodramatic disaster film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Dolores Costello and George O'Brien. The story is by Darryl F. Zanuck. The film was released by the Warner Bros. studio. It is representative of the transition from silent movies to "talkies", although it is essentially a hybrid film known as a part-talkie, which used the new Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. Most scenes are silent with a synchronized music score and sound effects, in particular the biblical ones, while some scenes have dialogue.

<i>While London Sleeps</i> 1926 film by Howard Bretherton

While London Sleeps is a 1926 Warner Bros. film about a police-dog, Rinty, who helps Scotland Yard defeat a dangerous criminal organisation known as the Mediterranean Brotherhood that operates out of the Limehouse district of London. Walter Morosco wrote the screenplay. It was the first of many films directed by Howard Bretherton, and one of several created for Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd dog used in films during the 1920s and 1930s. The film was also released with a Vitaphone sound-on-disc soundtrack with a music score and sound effects, and only the sound discs survive today. The British release prints censored the more horrific aspects of the film.

<i>The First Auto</i> 1927 film by Roy Del Ruth

The First Auto is a 1927 film about the transition from horses to cars and the rift it causes in one family. It stars Charles Emmett Mack and Patsy Ruth Miller, with Barney Oldfield having a guest role in the movie. While mainly a silent film, it does have a Vitaphone sound-on-disc soundtrack with a synchronized musical score and sound effects, as well as three spoken words and some laughter.

<i>The Third Degree</i> (1926 film) 1926 film by Michael Curtiz

The Third Degree is a 1926 American silent romance film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz, in his first American film, Starring Dolores Costello, it is based on the hit 1909 play of the same name written by Charles Klein that starred Helen Ware.

<i>A Million Bid</i> (1927 film) 1927 film

A Million Bid is a 1927 silent drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Dolores Costello. It is based on the 1908 play, Agnes, by Gladys Rankin Drew writing under the pseudonym "George Cameron".

<i>Good Time Charley</i> 1927 film by Michael Curtiz

Good Time Charley is a 1927 American silent drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film apparently had a Vitaphone soundtrack of music and effects. It was considered to be a lost film. However, as of January 2021, the film is listed as extant at the Library of Congress.

<i>Tenderloin</i> (film) 1928 film by Michael Curtiz

Tenderloin is a 1928 American part-talkie crime film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Dolores Costello. While the film was a part-talkie, it was mostly a silent film with a synchronized musical score and sound effects on Vitaphone discs. It was produced and released by Warner Bros. Tenderloin is considered a lost film, with no prints currently known to exist.

<i>Hearts in Exile</i> (1929 film) 1929 film

Hearts in Exile is a 1929 American pre-Code romance film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz. It was also released in a silent version with music and effects. It starred Dolores Costello in a story based on the 1904 novel by John Oxenham. An earlier 1915 film starring Clara Kimball Young was also produced, and is extant, but the 1929 version is considered to be a lost film.

<i>When a Man Loves</i> 1927 film by Alan Crosland

When a Man Loves is a 1927 American silent historical drama film directed by Alan Crosland and produced and distributed by Warner Bros. The picture stars John Barrymore and features Dolores Costello in the frequently filmed story of Abbe Prevost's 1731 novel Manon Lescaut. The UK release title was His Lady.

<i>The Heart of Maryland</i> (1927 film) 1927 film

The Heart of Maryland (1927) is a silent film costume Vitaphone drama produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Lloyd Bacon. The film stars Dolores Costello in the title character and features Jason Robards, Sr. It is based on David Belasco's 1895 play The Heart of Maryland performed on Broadway. The film is the last silent version of the often filmed Victorian story, with versions having been produced in 1915 and 1921.

<i>Expensive Women</i> 1931 film

Expensive Women is a 1931 American pre-Code film drama. It was produced by First National Pictures and distributed through their parent company Warner Bros. The film was directed by silent film veteran Hobart Henley and stars Dolores Costello. It was Costello's final film as a leading lady and star for Warners, which she had been since 1925. She retired to be the wife of John Barrymore and to raise their family. Costello would return to films five years later after a long hiatus and the end of her marriage to Barrymore, but never regained the luster she enjoyed as a Warners star.

<i>The Redeeming Sin</i> 1929 film

The Redeeming Sin (1929) is a crime drama part-talking silent film with Vitaphone music and sound effects. It was produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and stars Dolores Costello. This film is a lost film.

<i>Mannequin</i> (1926 film) 1926 film

Mannequin is a 1926 American silent romantic drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed by Paramount Pictures. James Cruze directed and Alice Joyce, Warner Baxter, and Dolores Costello were the stars. The film is still extant.

<i>The College Widow</i> (1927 film) 1927 film

The College Widow is a 1927 American silent comedy film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Archie Mayo. The film is based on the 1904 Broadway play of the same name by George Ade and was previously adapted to film in 1915 with Ethel Clayton. The 1927 silent film version is a starring vehicle for Dolores Costello.

<i>The Lash</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

The Lash is a 1930 American pre-Code Western film produced and distributed by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. It had an alternate title of Adios. The film was directed by Frank Lloyd and stars Richard Barthelmess, Mary Astor, James Rennie and Marian Nixon. The film was issued in two formats: Warner Bros. 65mm Vitascope wide screen and regular 35mm. The Vitaphone sound system was used for recording. Exteriors were filmed at the current Westlake Village, California and Russell Ranch of Thousand Oaks, California areas near Los Angeles. It was adapted for the screen by Bradley King from a story Adios by Fred Bartlett and Virginia Stivers Bartlett.

<i>Stark Mad</i> 1929 film

Stark Mad is a 1929 American pre-Code adventure film produced and distributed by Warner Bros., directed by Lloyd Bacon, and starring H. B. Warner, Louise Fazenda, Jacqueline Logan and Henry B. Walthall. This lurid jungle melodrama was an attempt to emulate the then-popular jungle horror films being made at the time by Tod Browning and Lon Chaney. The film was unusual in that it is set in the jungles of Central America rather than Africa.

<i>The Better Ole</i> (1926 film) 1926 film

The Better 'Ole is a 1926 American silent World War I comedy drama film. Released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., this film is the second full-length film to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process, two months after the first Vitaphone feature Don Juan; with no audible dialogue, the film does have a synchronized musical score and sound effects. This film was also the second onscreen adaptation of the 1917 musical The Better 'Ole by Bruce Bairnsfather and Arthur Elliot. Charlie Chaplin's eldest brother Sydney Chaplin played the main lead as Old Bill in perhaps his best-known film today. This film is also believed by many to have the first spoken word of dialog, "coffee", although there are those who disagree. At one point during the film, Harold Goodwin's character whispers a word to Sydney Chaplin which is also faintly heard.

<i>Broken Hearts of Hollywood</i> 1926 film

Broken Hearts of Hollywood is a 1926 American comedy-drama film released by Warner Bros. and directed by Lloyd Bacon. It is unknown, but the film might have been released with a Vitaphone soundtrack. A print of the film exists.

References

  1. Old San Francisco at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. 1 2 3 Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 6 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  3. 1 2 "OLD SAN FRANCISCO". TCM. TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES, INC. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  4. "Old San Francisco at silentera.com database". Silentera.com. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  5. "Fandango". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  6. Morris Ernst and Pare Lorentz, (1930). Censored: The Private Life of the Movie, New York: Jonathan Cape. p. 7.
  7. Steffens, James "Old San Francisco" (article) TCM.com