Nob Hill is a significant milestone in the career of George Raft. This film marks the last time he would be starring in a A film product. From now on his films would be B films in which he would star or they would be A products like Some Like It Hot where he was in the supporting cast. Not a milestone I'm sure Raft counted with any kind of relish.
In the George Raft biography by James Parrish, Raft's co-star Joan Bennett wrote the forward and this film marked the fourth and last time she was in a film with him. Raft was not happy making this film and did walk off the set for a short time. He felt that 20th Century Fox was building up Vivian Blaine and Peggy Ann Garner at the expense of him and Joan Bennett. She was inclined to be more philosophical than he about the vagaries of the film business. As we know he did come back and finish the movie.
Raft plays the owner of one of the more upscale clubs on the Barbary Coast at the turn of the last century and Vivian Blaine is his chief attraction. One day into his life comes young Peggy Ann Garner who is fresh from Ireland because her uncle sent for her, her uncle being a bartender at Raft's joint. But in the meantime he's passed on.
Nevertheless Garner's one Irish charmer and Raft decides he'll take care of her as does Blaine.
Raft has ambitions however to get beyond the Barbary Coast and crash the genteel society on Nob Hill which Blaine calls Snob Hill. Fueling those ambitions is Joan Bennett with her brother Edgar Barrier running for District Attorney.
His romantic and political entanglements get kind of mixed and his fellow entertainment barons on the Barbary Coast aren't happy with Raft's new friends. How Raft resolves all these personal and political problems is the basis for Nob Hill.
If Raft was worried about who was being showcased, he was right. Peggy Ann Garner steals this film right out from under her adult co-stars. Maybe if Vivian Blaine had gotten some memorable songs from the team of Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson she might have been better served by the film as well.
I've a feeling this film might very well have been intended for Betty Grable to co-star with Raft. She and Raft were an item back in the day before she married Harry James, maybe Darryl Zanuck thought he could have gotten some box office mileage. In any event Grable didn't do Nob Hill, not that her career would have been helped or hurt had she been in the cast.
Joan Bennett's forward says that at all times George Raft was a classy gentleman and a terrific dancer. She recalled that many times she and husband Walter Wanger were out on the town and if Raft was in the same club, she inevitably got to dance with him.
Nob Hill is a decent enough film that doesn't quite measure up to some of the other nostalgic type films that 20th Century Fox was putting out then that usually starred Betty Grable or Alice Faye. Still it's not bad and a must for fans of the winsome Peggy Ann Garner.
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