There's something vaguely weird in reviewing a movie that came out in 1936 (Who this young rising star Clark Gable? He's going to go far!), but we had a great time at the kickoff screening for the Balboa Theater's ever-popular Reel SF series, where the theater presents classic movies set in San Francisco.
San Francisco is the famous disaster movie about the 1906 earthquake, and tells the story of a local hothead (Clark Gable) running for the Board of Supervisors. (Really! We're not making that up! Our favorite part of the movie, next to the earthquake, was the excellent election rally they held in what would have been District 3 if they'd had district elections back in 1906, where the candidate gives a boring speech about land use, announces, "free beer for everyone!", and then gets in a fight. We see a remake for District 6 with Chris Daly in the lead!)
The hothead's in love with a showgirl (Jeannette MacDonald), who sings that famous "San Francisco/Open your Golden Gate" song they use now to kick off screenings at the Castro, over and over and over. Spencer Tracy is in the movie too, playing a priest. The Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) screenplay translates remarkably well into the modern day (what? Conflict between downtown corporate interests and the supervisor looking out for the little guy?) and everyone in the audience had a thoroughly good time.
The Balboa is screening San Francisco tonight and tomorrow in tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Big Quake, and the Tuesday the 18th screening will be preceded by vintage films (some in 3-D) from 1906, live performances, and a "special surprise guest." Go check out San Francisco's Gone With The Wind yourself, and like us, spend the next day vainly trying to get "San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gate" out of your head.
San Francisco, showing 12:45, 4:45, 7:00 p.m. tonight
Special Tuesday earthquake centennial screening: 7:00 p.m.
3630 Balboa (between 37th and 38th Avenues).