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Absolutely ordinary western with Yvonne beautiful but arch and Joel seemingly sleepwalking through the picture.
Before âCry Dangerâ director Robert Parrish made his urban western outing âThe San Francisco Storyâ with Joel McCrea and Yvonne DeCarlo, he won an Academy Award for Best Editing on the 1947 boxing movie âBody and Soul.â During his twenty year career as a director, Parrish made variety of movies, among them gangster movies, World War II military movies, and westerns. âThe San Francisco Storyâ evokes memories of the 1935 Howard Hawksâ epic âBarbary Coast,â but Parrish achieved more success with his tale about crime and corruption in the colorful city by the bay before California became a state.
Clocking everything in at a short and snappy 80-minutes, Parrish and âAbbott and Costello in the Foreign Legionâ scenarist D.D. Beauchamp, along with an uncredited western writer William Bowers, adapted the Richard Summers story â"Vigilante" and delivered an above-average, often entertaining, but clearly predictable little western about empire building.
Veteran western star Joel McCrea gets himself (as well as his stunt man) tangled up in several knuckle-bruising fistfights in this black & white Warner Brothers release when he isnât trying to kiss and cuddle with his attractive co-star. Yvonne DeCarlo and McCrea later encored as a couple in âBorder Riverâ in 1954.
The chief asset of âThe San Francisco Storyâ is the villain that actor Sidney Blackmer, who made a career out of impersonating Theodore Roosevelt, plays with such oily charm. As Andrew Cain, Blackmer owns San Francisco and DeCarlo is his right-hand gal. Her portrait hangs in the saloon behind the bar. Initially, Adelaide McCall (DeCarlo) and Rick Nelson (McCrea) donât hit it off. Cain sends her off with Nelson for an evening along so that she can pick his brain.
It seems that the last time that San Francisco suffered from vigilantes; Nelson was one of the chief architects of the vigilante movement. All Nelson wants to do now is work his mining claim until he lays his eyes on Adelaide. During their first night out in a buggy ride along the coast, Nelson riles Adelaide so she uses the horse whip on him and leaves him stranded. Later, she apologizes to Nelson in person, but he says something that she doesnât like and she has him shanghaied. Nelson awakens in the hole of a ship bound for Asia and fights his way out of it.
Interestingly, McCrea never whips out his six-shooter in this oater as he romances DeCarlo and scheme with Blackmer. Thereâs one very good twist about midway through the action when our hero tries to infiltrate the villains. Tor Johnson, who made a name for himself in the films of Ed Wood, has a small role here as a saloon bouncer.