Mary Blake arrives at Blackie Norton’s Paradise gambling hall and beer garden looking for work as a singer. Blackie embarrasses her by asking to see her legs, but does hire her. She faints from hunger. Nob Hill Socialite Jack Burley and Maestro Baldini of the Tivoli Opera House see her singing and offer her a chance to do opera, but Blackie has her under a two-year contract which she sorrowfully stands by. Later, when he makes up posters featuring Mary in tights, she does leave for the Tivoli. Blackie gets an injunction against Burley, but knocks out the process server when he hears Mary’s performance as Marguerite in “Faust”. She asks her to marry him and she agrees to go back to the Paradise as his kind of singer, but Blackie’s childhood chum Father Tim intervenes. After Blackie slugs the priest, Mary leaves. She is soon the star of the Tivoli and Blackie’s place is closed down. She sings a rousing “San Francisco” on behalf of the Paradise at the annual “Chicken Ball” and wins the $10,000 prize which Blackie throws to the floor. As she storms out of the hall a terrible rumble betokens the famous San Francisco earthquake. Buildings collapse, streets split wide open, the city burns, the army dynamites whole sections of town. After staggering around in a stupor Blackie finds Father Tim and the two of them find Mary at a Salvation Army camp. Backed by hundreds of others, they look out over the ruins which are gradually replaced by the shining new city with a reprise of the title song. —IMDb
W. S. \“Woody\” Van Dyke II inaugurated his career at age three as a stage actor, in the company of his widowed actress-mother. When acting jobs were scarce, young Van Dyke worked as a miner, electrician and (allegedly) a soldier-for-hire in Mexico during the ‘teens. In 1916, he was hired as one of several assistants to director D.W. Griffith, working in this capacity on Griffith’s mammoth Intolerance. After assisting director James Young at Paramount, Van Dyke was allowed to direct his first solo film in 1917. He spent most of the 1920s laboring on quickie Westerns, earning a reputation for speed and efficiency. In 1928, he was brought into MGM’s troubled production White Shadows on the South Seas, which, under the snail’s-pace direction of Robert J. Flaherty (a brilliant documentary maker whose skills at fictional filmmaking was slight), was running way behind schedule. When White Shadows opened to critical and audience approval, Van Dyke was elevated to Hollywood’s A-list of directors… read more
unfortunately this film is terribly dated because "two-shot" dyke (as WS van Dyke was called for shooting picutres so fast) does a great job. the direction and editing are quite good and the acting and special effects too. the earthquake scene reminds one of eisenstein. it's a shame that the script is so lame... well, and let's not forget the singing: it's just damn awfu!!!