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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Frisco In Color, But Minus The Quake


Fox Adds Action to Musical Formula with Nob Hill (1945)

Henry Hathaway said he directed this Fox Technicolor period music/actioner in deference to Zanuck, who explained that life often obliges us to do things we'd rather not. Nob Hill is San Francisco again without the earthquake, but there is nod to family trade as Barbary-king George Raft takes orphan Peggy Ann Garner under wing (as he did in similar The Bowery for Jackie Cooper). Vivian Blaine is here as chanteuse, with Joan Bennett repping the aristocracy and pic's title. Nob Hill was customized to have something for everyone, result being no one entirely satisfied, but Fox's On-Demand DVD is very nice, capturing part at least of color value inherent in three-strips originally applied. Zanuck argued to Hathaway that shows like this always took a pot of money; at times you could close your eyes and swear Nob Hill was another Betty Grable. To the profit part, DFZ was right: Nob Hill took twice its negative cost ($2.2 million) in worldwide rentals ($4.4), so Zanuck knew whereof he spoke. 1945 was a near-final inning when execs could guess what output would gross, and most often be right.

5 Comments:

Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

"…in deference to Zanuck, who explained that life often obliges us to do things we'd rather not."

It wasn't just Henry Hathaway. Joan Bennett wanted out of NOB HILL, too, and Zanuck gave her a choice: NOB HILL or Laurel & Hardy's THE BULLFIGHTERS. She took NOB HILL, to her regret.

11:00 AM  
Blogger dougd59 said...

I bought this a while a back, specifically to see the great vaudeville team Smith and Dale, who are listed in the opening credits, but are virtually non existent in the film. They are briefly seen delivering a cake and singing Happy Birthday; but's that's it was far as I can tell. Any records as to what they originally filmed and why they were cut out of the picture?

11:07 AM  
Blogger Rae Quan said...

I know this is a bit off topic but today's (5/8/14) cover photo of Norma Shearer might require a 2nd closer viewing. Some years back I'd read that Norma had a "cast" in her eye, which after doing some research discovered that meant a wondering eye. I'd always assumed it was something she managed to hid pretty well.

But not on this photo. She is clearly cross-eyed. I guess with the angle that her head is positioned this is easy to miss, and I had to look closely. But yep, her eyes seem to be going their separate ways. A testament to the woman who managed to overcome, not only being cross-eyed but not being conventionally beautiful either in an industry where looks were pretty much the only thing that mattered -- at least for the people in front of the camera. And she married Irving Thalberg to boot!!

3:24 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Good catch, Rae Quan. I'm getting cross-eyed just looking at it!

3:38 PM  
Blogger iarla said...

Norma's 'cast' was legendary. The famed Mrs. Patrick Campbell once complimented Norma on her eyes, "so tiny!" To digress, "Nob Hill" is almost the 'ne plus ultra' of forties Fox Technicolor - I remember the outdoor Mansion set with the vacant lot next door, and the Halloween hues of the Chinatown den at the films end. It's a shame the content of those elaborately produced movies is so vacuous. To have seen them as a child in the forties.....

9:16 PM  

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