Fog Over Frisco (1934): William Dieterle’s Thriller-Melodrama, Starring Bette Davis

William Dieterle directed Fog Over Frisco, a routine pre-Code thriller melodrama, produced by Henry Blank and Robert Lord, starring Bette Davis just months before she became a major star.

Davies accepted this small, undistinguished part, hoping that her boss Jack Warner would lend her to RKO so that she could play the meaty part of the slatternly waitress Mildred in Of Human Bondage, based on Somerset Maugham’s famous novel.

The scheme proved effective and Davis received rave reviews (and write-in Oscar nod) for her powerful performance, a turning point in her quickly rising career.  In the following year, Davis would earn the first of her two Best Actress Oscars for Dangerous, opposite Franchot Tone

Davies accepted this small, undistinguished part, hoping that her boss Jack Warner would lend her to RKO so that she could play the meaty part of the slatternly waitress Mildred in Of Human Bondage, based on Somerset Maugham’s famous novel.

The scheme proved effective and Davis received rave reviews (and write-in Oscar nod) for her powerful performance, a turning point in her rising career.  In the following year, 1935, she would earn the Best Actress Oscar for Dangerous, opposite Franchot Tone

Robert N. Lee and Eugene Solow’s script was based on the short story, “The Five Fragments by George Dyer.

Davis plays Arlene Bradford, a spoiled, bored, wealthy socialite, whose lavish lifestyle is enabled by her fiancee Spencer Carltons (Lyle Talbot) and her access to her stepfather’s brokerage firm.  She is exploiting her connection to steal some security bonds for crime boss Jake Bello (Irving Pichel).

When Arlene disappears, her step-sister Val (Margaret Lindsay searches of her, with the assistance of  reporter Tony Sterling (Donald Woods) and photojournalist Izzy Wright (Hugh Herbert).

The movie was partly shot on location in San Francisco.

Neither convincing as a thriller, nor creditable as a melodrama, Fog Over Crisco is a faced-pace programmer that Warner studio used to crank during the Depression.

Credits:

Running time: 68 minutes

Black and white

Release Date: June 2, 1934.

Recycling:

Fog Over Frisco was remade in 1942 under the title of Spy Ship.

It was released on DVD in July 2010.

 

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