Watch Old San Francisco
- 1 hr 29 min
Old San Francisco is a silent film released in 1927. This movie brings the audience to the San Francisco of the 1850s, a city still growing and changing. In this context, we see two rival families - the Donahues and the Dillingers - who both own successful enterprises. The patriarch of the Donahue clan is Senator Donahue (Anders Randolf). He is a stern and powerful man who has made his fortune as a shipping magnate. He is also the creator of the Senator brand whiskey, which is the most popular in the city.
On the other hand, the Dillingers run a saloon and gambling den. Their leader is Blackie Dillingers (Josef Swickard), a cunning and ruthless man who is determined to take down the Senator and expand his business. However, when Senator Donahue's daughter, Dolores (Dolores Costello), meets Blackie, they fall in love, and their forbidden love sets off a series of events that will change the course of both families.
The movie does an excellent job of capturing the momentousness of the era in which it is set. San Francisco in the 1850s is on the brink of a great transformation, with the discovery of gold drawing thousands of people to the area. The city is portrayed as an exciting and dangerous place, full of schemers, dreamers, and opportunists.
The film also brings to life the cultural diversity of San Francisco, with characters from different backgrounds and ethnicities. A particularly compelling subplot involves Blackie's Chinese friend, Ah Sing (Otto Yamaoka). Ah Sing is in love with the Senator's niece, but their relationship is challenged by racial prejudice and cultural misunderstandings. The movie is not afraid to tackle these difficult themes, and it does so with sensitivity and nuance.
Dolores Costello gives a standout performance as the Senator's daughter. Her character is torn between loyalty to her family and her love for Blackie. Costello brings a depth of feeling to her role that makes her character's emotions feel real and relatable. Josef Swickard is also excellent as Blackie. He portrays Blackie's ruthlessness and ambition convincingly, but also shows his vulnerability and humanity in his scenes with Dolores. Randolf is a powerhouse as the Senator, imbuing his character with gravitas and force.
The film's sets and costumes are impressive, especially considering the limited technology available at the time. The sets recreate the look and feel of 1850s San Francisco, from the narrow streets to the bustling docks. The costumes are also accurate for the period and add to the movie's immersive quality.
One of the most striking aspects of the movie is its use of light and shadow. The film was shot by legendary cinematographer Arthur Edeson, who later worked on classics like Frankenstein and The Maltese Falcon. Edeson uses light and shadow to create a sense of depth and mood, which adds to the film's atmosphere. His work in Old San Francisco is particularly impressive, given the challenges of shooting a silent film outdoors.
Overall, Old San Francisco is an engrossing and ambitious movie that transports the viewer to a fascinating moment in American history. It has something for everyone - romance, action, drama, and even a bit of comedy. While it may feel dated to modern audiences, it is still a valuable piece of cinema history and a testament to the enduring power of storytelling.
Old San Francisco is a 1927 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 29 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.4.