The Beauty of San Francisco | Movie review

United States: 1945 Original title: Flame of Barbary Coast Director: Joseph Kane Screenplay: Borden Chase Actors: John Wayne, Ann Dvorak, Joseph Schildkraut Publisher: Sidonis Calysta Running time: 1h31 Genre: Western Movie release date: May 19, 1948 DVD/BR release date: August 10, 2020

A Montana cowboy, Duke Fergus arrives in San Francisco where he discovers a passion for gambling. While shuffling cards, he falls in love with singer Flaxen Terry, the girlfriend of the saloon owner who has just plucked him. To seduce her and attract her to him, he opens his own establishment. It is at this moment that an earthquake devastates the city…

Republic Pictures, a small production company specializing in B-series and western films, was instrumental in revealing John Wayne, who would remain loyal to the studio from 1935 to 1952. Moviegoers too young to have discovered John Wayne’s great moments in the theatres but old enough to have witnessed the explosion of the DVD format are necessarily familiar with the Republic Pictures studio. Sometimes even without necessarily being aware of it, by the way.But Republic Pictures did indeed make a breakthrough in France at the turn of the 2000s through Atlas Publishing and their famous collection “Les grands westerns”.A collection of jagged DVDs, oscillating between the best and the worst, and which had finally worn out all the patience by following month after month the minor films of John Wayne, all more soporific the ones than the others, which was all the more exhausting as these films were most often served to us in deplorable technical conditions.

The San Francisco beauty, which now benefits from a wonderful technical upgrade thanks to Sidonis Calysta, was originally part of this collection, in a master stacking set. It was probably part of the lot you sold to a western grandpa at the flea market a few years ago.Today, inevitably, the arrival of the film in the prestigious “Legendary Western” collection, accompanied by the presentations of Patrick Brion and Jean-François Giré, will make you wonder: what if almost twenty years after its release by Atlas, the film deserved a rehabilitation?

Made in 1945, The Beauty of San Francisco was an “event” film for Republic Pictures, in the sense that it celebrated the studio’s tenth anniversary that year. To celebrate the event in due form, a comfortable budget of $600,000 was allocated to the project, which was directed by Joseph Kane, an old hand at serial and western filmmaking, who was shooting about ten low-budget westerns a year (!).Backed by some of the studio’s most solid technicians – notably Howard and Theodore Lydecker on special effects – and benefiting from a fifteen-day shooting schedule, the film crew was able to create a nice earthquake on screen.

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