Ex-Army officer Jameson takes a job a prison guard at San Quentin. Joe, the brother of his new girlfriend May, is sentenced to the prison for robbery. When Jameson tries to separate lawbreakers from hardened criminals, badguy Hansen tries to stir up trouble by telling Joe about Jameson's interest in his sister.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"San Quentin" as the name implies is a trim little prison movie (it runs a scant 70 minutes) from Director Lloyd Bacon and Warner Brothers.
Ex Army Captain Steve Jameson (Pat O'Brien) takes a job as Captain of the Yard of San Quentin prison replacing acting Captain Druggin (Barton MacLane) whose handling of the prisoners was questioned by Warden Taylor (Joseph King).
Before taking up his duties, Jameson meets singer May Kennedy (Ann Sheridan) in a nightclub and the two become attracted to each other. May's brother "Red" Kennedy (Humphrey Bogart) is on the lam and comes to her for money but is arrested at the club in front of Jameson. Guess which prison Red will be sent to.
Jameson takes up his duties and vows to instill discipline and respect in the prisoners. Meanwhile Red turns up at the prison in the company of hard timer Sailor Boy Hansen (Joe Sawyer). Hansen plots an escape and asks Red to go along.
Meanwhile Jameson begins to make progress in Red's rehabilitation to the point of where Red is refusing to go along with Hansen's escape plan. However the envious Druggin learns from the prison fink (Ernie Adams) of the planned escape. He arranges Hansen's assignment to the road gang along with Red. One night the fink lets it slip that Jameson is "taking advantage" of Red's sister May. Red becomes enraged and decides to go along with Hansen and....................
An oddity in the casting has Bogey playing Ann Sheridan's younger 25 year old brother. In fact Bogey was some 15 years older than Sheridan, although to both of their credits, they manage to pull it off. Pat O'Brien was born to play authority figures and does his usual excellent job here. Bogey for once, gets to play a character far removed from his usual one dimensional gangster portrayals, and proves his range as an actor.
Others in the cast include Garry Owen as Dopey the preacher, Veda Ann Borg as Helen, Hansen's moll and James Robbins, Marc Lawrence, William Pawley and Al Hill as various convicts.
Another of Warners long list of 30s gangster/prison classics.
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