Fog Over Frisco

Fog Over Frisco

Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Dieterle
Produced by Henry Blanke (uncredited)
Robert Lord (uncredited)
Written by George Dyer (story)
Robert N. Lee
Eugene Solow
Starring Bette Davis
Donald Woods
Margaret Lindsay
Hugh Herbert
Lyle Talbot
Irving Pichel
Alan Hale
William Demarest
Music by Leo F. Forbstein (music supervision)
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Distributed by Warner Bros.-First National Pictures
Release dates
June 2, 1934
Running time
68 min
Country USA
Language English

Fog Over Frisco is a 1934 American Pre-Code drama film directed by William Dieterle. The screenplay by Robert N. Lee and Eugene Solow was based on the short story The Five Fragments by George Dyer.


Arlene Bradford (Bette Davis) is a spoiled, bored, wealthy socialite who finances her extravagant lifestyle by exploiting her fiancé Spencer Carlton's (Lyle Talbot) access to her stepfather's brokerage firm and using her connection to steal security bonds for crime boss Jake Bello (Irving Pichel).

When Arlene disappears, her step-sister Val (Margaret Lindsay) steps in to discover what happened to her with the help of society reporter Tony Sterling (Donald Woods) and photojournalist Izzy Wright (Hugh Herbert).

Principal cast


Bette Davis, anxious to portray the slatternly waitress Mildred in the RKO Radio Pictures production Of Human Bondage, accepted the relatively small role of Arlene in the hope her cooperation would convince Jack L. Warner to lend her to the rival studio for the film. Her ploy worked, and when Warner received word about her dynamic performance in Bondage, he elevated her to top billing in Frisco.[1]

Part of the Warner Brothers release was filmed on location in San Francisco. It was remade as Spy Ship in 1942.

It was released on DVD in July 2010.

Critical reception

In his review in The New York Times, Mordaunt Hall described the film as a "ruddy thriller" and opined, "What [it] lacks in the matter of credibility, it atones for partly by its breathless pace and its abundance of action. As the story of murder and robbery passes on the screen it scarcely gives the spectator time to think who might be the ring-leader of the band of desperadoes."[2]

Time stated, "Brisk to the point of confession, Fog Over Frisco is not the best of Director William Dieterle's pictures."[3]

Film historian William K. Everson called this "the fastest film ever made".[4]


  1. The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler, Simon and Schuster (2006), pp. 98-99 ISBN 0-7432-8905-6
  2. New York Times review
  3. Time review
  4. Lodge, Jack; Taylor, John Russell; Kermode, Mark (1992). 1930-1990 Hollywood: Sixty Great Years. London: PRION, an imprint of Multimedia Books Limited. p. 27. ISBN 1-85375-074-3.

External links

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