Old San Francisco

35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

With stunning photography by Hal Mohr and a beautiful Vitaphone score composed by Hugo Reisenfeld, Old San Francisco is a relic that bears revisiting. The corrupt San Francisco of the early 1900s, hostile to the Chinese community, is the setting for conniving business man Chris Buckwell’s schemes. With the help of his right hand woman (the wonderful Anna May Wong, in a role too small for her talents), Buckwell hides his membership in the Asian community, instead insisting publicly that he is a white Christian. The city’s corrupt and racist history serves up a fair amount of drama, but the film’s real apex is a monstrous earthquake and subsequent fire, showcased on this 35mm print, which includes the original score and sound effects.

Dir. Alan Crosland, 1927, 35mm, 88 min.