San Quentin (1937 film)

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San Quentin
San Quentin FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Written by Robert Tasker
John Bright
Screenplay byPeter Milne
Humphrey Cobb
Charles Belden
Laird Doyle
Seton I. Miller
Tom Reed
Produced by Jack L. Warner
Hal Wallis
Samuel Bischoff
Starring Pat O'Brien
Humphrey Bogart
Ann Sheridan
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
Edited by William Holmes
Music by Leo Forbstein
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • August 7, 1937 (1937-08-07)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$365,000 (estimated)

San Quentin is a 1937 Warner Bros. drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, and Ann Sheridan. It was shot on location at San Quentin State Prison.



Ex-Army officer Steve Jameson (Pat O' Brien), the chief guard at San Quentin State Prison, meets May Kennedy (Ann Sheridan), who works as a singer in a San Francisco night club. Joe "Red" Kennedy (Humphrey Bogart), her brother, who is on the run from the police, is arrested at the nightclub when he comes to see his sister.

Red arrives in San Quentin a few days later with another new inmate, hardened criminal "Sailor Boy" Hansen (Joe Sawyer). After a fight with Sailor in the courtyard on his first day, Jameson punishes him. May begins a romantic relationship with Jameson, and soon finds out what he couldn't tell her before: He is the yard captain of the prison, who is in charge of the prisoners.

Jameson institutes a merit system intended to separate the hapless lawbreakers from the hardened criminals. Joe is then selected by Jameson to work outside of the prison in a road camp, constructing a new road, as a step in his rehabilitation. Lieutenant Druggin (Barton MacLane), the former chief guard, resents Jameson's methods, and surreptitiously assigns Hansen also to the road camp. Hansen then makes a plan to break out of prison. At first Red refuses to join him, but changes his mind when he learns that Jameson is dating his sister.

Hansen's girlfriend (Veda Ann Borg) arrives in a car at the site where the inmates are working and asks for help with a flat tire. Hansen volunteers to change the tire, and retrieves two guns that were hidden in the tool box. He and Red take a guard hostage and flee. After a wild car pursuit, Hansen's car crashes and he dies. Red survives the crash and escapes. He makes it to May's flat, but Jameson is already there. After a short argument, Red shoots at Jameson who is slightly injured. Red flees and is shot by a police patrol, but he has enough strength to get back to the prison, where he dies in front of the gates.


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  1. McCarty, Clifford (1965). Bogey - The Films of Humphrey Bogart. Cadillac Publishing Co., Inc. p. 47.
  2. McCarty, Clifford (1965). Bogey - The Films of Humphrey Bogart. Cadillac Publishing Co., Inc. p. 47.