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Nob Hill (film)

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Nob Hill
Directed byHenry Hathaway
Produced byAndré Daven
Written byNorman Reilly Raine
Wanda Tuchock
Based onstory by Eleanore Griffin
StarringGeorge Raft
Joan Bennett
Vivian Blaine
Peggy Ann Garner
Music byDavid Buttolph
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byHarmon Jones
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • June 13, 1945 (1945-06-13) (U.S.)
Running time
95 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$3,104,000[1] or $2,300,000[2]

Nob Hill is a 1945 Technicolor film about a Barbary Coast saloon keeper starring George Raft and Joan Bennett. Part musical and part drama, the movie was directed by Henry Hathaway. It remains one of Raft's lesser known movies even though it was a big success, in part because it was a musical.[3]

Plot

Sally Templeton (Vivian Blaine) sings at Tony Angelo's (George Raft) popular turn-of-the-century nightclub in San Francisco, which is called the Gold Coast. She is also in love with Tony.

One day, a young girl, Katie Flanagan (Peggy Ann Garner), just off the boat from Ireland, arrives looking for her uncle. Informed that he has died, Katie is about to be sent back by Tony on the next ship until Sally persuades him to let the girl stay a while.

Tony falls for Nob Hill socialite Harriet Carruthers (Joan Bennett) and agrees to support her brother, Lash (Edgar Barrier), who is a candidate for district attorney. Business acquaintances are upset because Lash might shut down clubs like theirs if elected DA. Sally objects to the attention he is paying Harriet and takes a job singing in another club. Katie misses her terribly.

After the election, Tony discovers that Harriet has no interest in a future with someone like him. He grows despondent and turns to drink. Sally reconciles with Tony, who is also heartened by Lash's acknowledgment that he intends to investigate only law-breaking operations, not Tony's, which is respectable. All is well until Katie runs away, but after a desperate search in Chinatown for the child, Tony and Sally finally find her.

Cast

Production

Raft and Blaine
Raft and Blaine

In March 1943, producer Harry Sherman announced he had purchased an original screen story, Crocus Hill by Eleanore Griffin, about a ten year old Irish girl in 1860s San Francisco; she arrives to discover her uncle is dead and gets adopted by gambler because she is good luck. Sherman was going to change the title to Nob Hill and film it for United Artists the following year.[4]

20th Century Fox had a lot of success making Technicolor musicals set during America's past, including Coney Island (1943) and Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943). Most were set in a saloon and revolved around a love triangle. In October 1943 Fox announced they had purchased Harry Sherman's interest in Nob Hill. Norman Reilly Raine was going to write the script, Andre Daven would produce and the film would be a vehicle for Peggy Ann Garner, who had just impressed in Jane Eyre.[5] The original adult stars were to be Michael O'Shea and Jeanne Crain.[6] Eventually the male starring role was assigned to Fred MacMurray with Gregory Ratoff to direct and Lynn Bari and Merle Oberon to be the female leads along with Garner.[7]

Release poster
Release poster

In May 1944 Ratoff dropped out and Darryl F. Zanuck offered the film to Henry Hathaway, who turned it down because he was uncomfortable with directing a musical. Zanuck put Hathaway on suspension, and Hathaway agreed to make the film. Zanuck allowed Hathaway to make some key changes, including reducing the amount of musical interludes, and removing a sequence that made fun of a Chinese servant.[8] (Hathaway later claimed Nob Hill was the only film "a studio ever handed me that I said I didn't want to make and I made it anyway."[9])

Fred MacMurray proved unavailable due to delays on Murder, He Says and was replaced by George Raft. Raft had previously made a successful film set during this period for Zanuck, The Bowery (1933). MacMurray instead went into Where Do We Go From Here?. Lynn Bari was then put in Where Do We Go From Here and Oberon dropped out; the female leads would be Vivian Blaine and Joan Bennett. Filming started in July 1944.[10]

Reception

Box office

The film was one of the most popular releases at the US box office in 1945.[1][11]

Critical

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times pointed out the film was essentially a remake of Hello, Frisco, Hello, which was a remake of Alexander's Ragtime Band, adding that "What's to be said about such wish-wash that hasn't been said before? Shall we say that the songs are presentable and that Vivian Blaine presents them all right? Shall we say that George Raft is rather silly... that Joan Bennett is even sillier... and that Peggy Ann Garner is badly wasted...? Or shall we just say that everything in it, including the whiskey (which flows freely), is corn—only this corn, unlike the whiskey, does not improve with age?"[12]

References

  1. ^ a b Everett Aaker, The Films of George Raft, McFarland & Company, 2013 p 104
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (2002). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 220. ISBN 9780810842441.
  3. ^ Vagg, Stephen (February 9, 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: George Raft". Filmink.
  4. ^ "Of local origin". New York Times. Mar 13, 1943. ProQuest 106456347.
  5. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. Oct 6, 1943 – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (Feb 22, 1944). "E.G. robinson options story of thomas paine". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165482348.
  7. ^ "Of local origin". New York Times. May 31, 1944. ProQuest 106918912.
  8. ^ Pomainville, Harold N. (2016). Henry Hathaway: The Lives of a Hollywood Director. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 116. ISBN 9781442269781.
  9. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2005). Just Making Movies. University Press of Mississippi. p. 141.
  10. ^ Schallert, E. (Jun 3, 1944). "'Canteen' rolls again; raft star of 'nob hill'". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 165508459.
  11. ^ Reid, John Howard (June 2006). Success in the Cinema MoneyMaking Movies. ISBN 9781847280886.
  12. ^ Review of film at New York Times
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Nob Hill (film)
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