Oscar® nominee* Miriam Hopkins and Oscar® winner** Edward G. Robinson star inthis glittering masterpiece about gold, greed and 14-karat love. Set against the 1849 Gold Rush, this Academy Award®-nominated*** film is a suspe... more »nseful, "juicy melodrama" (Halliwell's Film and Video Guide) that "has all it takes" (Variety) to strike it rich! When gorgeous gold digger Mary (Hopkins) lands in San Franciscoonly to discover that her wealthy fiancéhas been murderedshe loses no time hooking up with the richest crook in town (Robinson). But when she unexpectedly falls for a handsome, idealistic miner, she soon learns just how much money cant buyand just how much she'll risk for a love that's worth its weight in gold. *1935: Actress, Becky Sharp **1972: Honorary Award ***1935: Cinematography« less
"All I have to say is this is one of THE most perfect films ever made! I mean, come on, how can you beat a movie that has all of the best main ingredients, ie. ~ Joel McCrea is all of his perfect glory! ~ Joel McCrea fawning over Percy Bysshe Shelley's writing in all of his perfect glory ~ A lovely period film with wonderful acting and actors! ~ Did I mention Joel McCrea? Oh, specially the line where he tells Miriam to read the book of Shelley and pretend he wrote it! Ooooooh, doesn't get any better than that!"
ADVENTURE ON THE CALIFORNIA COAST.
scotsladdie | 01/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Miriam Hopkins plays beautiful Mary Rutledge who arrives in San Francisco in the 185O's to marry Dan Morgan - only to discover that he died mysteriously after losing his fortune to Louis Chamalis (Eddie Robinson), the powerful owner of the Bella Donna saloon. Mary works for Chamalis as a roulette operator: he falls for her, but she does not reciprocate his feelings. Then a handsome, well-bred Easterner named Jim Carmichael appears in the Bella Donna: Mary finds her man...Robinson's performance is not one of his best, but Hopkins is first rate and McCrea does an admirable job. William Wellman was originally assigned to direct this film which was originally supposed to team Gary Cooper with Gloria Swanson (!). This marked the first film in which Howard Hawks directed for Sam Goldwyn. In his second American film, David Niven is seen as as a Cockney sailor. The script was written by the esteemed team of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. In his first appearance in a Goldwyn film, Walter Brennan is seen as Old Atrocity (!)."
Mark L. Mckenzie | San Francisco, CA USA | 03/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a real find not for the main actors but for the bit players. Its really entertaining and captures the 1849 city by the bay in all its glitter and mud. It's nicely paced and except for some shots that seem a tad redundent the fog hides the mystery of the love affair. Walter Brennan is super and plays the old sawdust with a moral conflict. I enjoyed the whole story and for 1935 it seemed was ahead of its time. Worth a rental or for the price above to be a keeper :)"
"I like that guy. I like his fancy words."
CodeMaster Talon | Orlando, FL United States | 05/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I sometimes think San Francisco of the 1800's must have been the liveliest town in human history. Gold! Dames! Gambling! And periodically, huge fires! Howard Hawks directs an intense, lesser known tale of the wild Gold Rush era in "Barbary Coast", a riveting movie well worth seeking out for film buffs.
Sporting a good performance from Joel McCrea, a great one from Edward G Robinson and a magnificent one from Miriam Hopkins, this film follows the initially depressing adventures of the cynical Mary, who arrives in San Francisco just in time to miss her fiancée's killing. She sets up shop with Robinson (in full gangster mode) only to fall for the sweet, gentle-yet-manly McCrea. Lies, redemption, and just desserts follow.
Worth seeing for Hopkins' final scenes with Robinson (wrenchingly begging for McCrea's life) and the lovely, foggy cinematography, the only drawback is that "Barbary Coast" is not what you would call a fun movie. Buy it if you're a big fan of the leads or enjoy heartbreak. Just don't skip it altogether.
GRADE: B/B+ Bonus Points: Walter Brennan, and the horse he rode in on. "
Early Howard Hawks
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 12/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""You must be mad too." -- Hopkins
"No, it's much worse than that--I'm stupid. Love's the only thing I've thought of or read about since I was knee high. I've always dreamed of meeting somebody and falling in love." -- Joel McCrea
Howard Hawks and the wild Barbary Coast of San Francisco during the gold rush proved a perfect match in a film which rarely gets talked about when the director's name comes up. The script by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur allowed him to expound on the disillusionment of men about women, as fabulous 1930's star, Miriam Hopkins, arrives in San Francisco a lady, and becomes unrecognizable to even herself when she sells her soul for riches. Alfred Newman's score and Ray June's photography turned back time to create the bawdy atmosphere of those early days of San Francisco when fortunes were won and lost overnight, and law and order did not exist.
Perhaps because films like The Stranger's Return and The Story of Temple Drake are not available to moviegoers today, Miriam Hopkins sort of runs neck and neck with Nancy Carroll as the biggest star hardly remembered today. There are glimpses here of how fabulous she could be, however. Mary Rutledge (Hopkins) arrives by ship on New Year's Eve with a load of prospectors hoping to strike it rich, only to discover the man she came to marry, for wealth, Dan Morgan, has been killed. Refined, but with a steel inside, she decides to stay and find her gold elsewhere. It will lead her straight to the Bella Donna gambling house, and a pact with the slimiest man in San Francisco.
Edward G. Robinson is Louie, the "Little Ceasar" of the Barbary Coast. He is also the man responsible for the death of her would-be husband, via his henchman, Knuckles (Brian Donlevy). Louie knows she'll bring all that gold back into the casino where it will never leave San Francisco and they strike a bargain of sorts which has nothing to do with love. Naturally the crass Louie falls in love with the Swan running his crooked roulette wheel, however, and jealousy reigns supreme. Her newspaper friend tries to write about the need for real law, and only her intervention with Louie keeps him up and running; until he's had enough, but too late. His murder will fans flames all over town, and it isn't long before a group of vigilantes decide in favor of real law and order. This is no Ox-Bow Incident, however; in Hawks' world, the vigilantes were the good guys.
The drama of all this is good, but what elevates the film is the romance of Joel McCrea and Miriam Hopkins in the second half. Hawks may have been jaded, but like most men disillusioned, he was a romantic at heart. His wary and jaded men always seemed to end up with the girl somehow, who either reformed or turned out to be on the up and up in the end. Hopkins does a subtle and wonderful job of becoming more feminine than her life at the Bella Donna allows her character to be upon meeting the innocent McCrea. McCrea, for his part, gives Cooper a run for his money as the easygoing prospector who reads poetry and falls instantly in love with the beautiful girl Mary no longer believes herself to be. Walter Brennan is terrific once again as a crusty old-timer who keeps finding ways to give McCrea back part of the money he loses to Hopkins at the roulette wheel.
An exciting and romantic getaway as the vigilantes close in on Louie, and Louie closes in on Mary, culminates in a wonderful ending which will delight moviegoers. While it is missing the bite so prevalent in many films from this director, an atmospheric setting and fine stars make this a real treat for fans of Howard Hawks. It is also a chance to see the fabulous Hopkins in a lead role; even though she's got the burner on low here, to fit with the story. A must for film connoisseurs."