San Quentin (1937)

70 mins | Drama | 7 August 1937

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Cinematographer:

Sid Hickox

Editor:

William Holmes

Production Designer:

Esdras Hartley

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to information on the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library and Archive for the Performing Arts, the first title of the story on which the film was based was Captain of the Yard . Warner Bros. files also reveal that director Lloyd Bacon and a crew shot extensive exterior footage at San Quentin Penitentiary. Within the film, actual footage of San Quentin, which was all in long shot, was blended with scenes shot in recreated sets on the Warner Bros. lot. Studio memos in the Warner Bros. Collection reveal that the studio added an extra sentence to the written onscreen disclaimer indicating that "No portrayal or scene in which recognition of an individual is possible was made of any actual prison inmate or any penal institution."
       Additional location shooting was done in Simi Valley, Bronson Canyon, the Providentia Ranch and the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, according to studio production records. Studio cost sheets state that the film had a negative cost of $223,489. HR noted that Warner Bros. had to reshoot some scenes after the death of Tom Manning. Manning, playing a small character part, died of a heart attack on the set. Warner Bros. studio memos reveal that, following a viewing of the completed film, studio head Jack Warner thought that the film's ending was too abrupt and suggested an additional scene in which "Capt. Stephen Jameson" is having breakfast with "May Kennedy" when he receives a phone call from the warden telling him that "Joe 'Red' Kennedy" has died.
       Additional information in the Warner Bros. collection reveals that director Michael Curtiz shot the ... More Less

According to information on the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library and Archive for the Performing Arts, the first title of the story on which the film was based was Captain of the Yard . Warner Bros. files also reveal that director Lloyd Bacon and a crew shot extensive exterior footage at San Quentin Penitentiary. Within the film, actual footage of San Quentin, which was all in long shot, was blended with scenes shot in recreated sets on the Warner Bros. lot. Studio memos in the Warner Bros. Collection reveal that the studio added an extra sentence to the written onscreen disclaimer indicating that "No portrayal or scene in which recognition of an individual is possible was made of any actual prison inmate or any penal institution."
       Additional location shooting was done in Simi Valley, Bronson Canyon, the Providentia Ranch and the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, according to studio production records. Studio cost sheets state that the film had a negative cost of $223,489. HR noted that Warner Bros. had to reshoot some scenes after the death of Tom Manning. Manning, playing a small character part, died of a heart attack on the set. Warner Bros. studio memos reveal that, following a viewing of the completed film, studio head Jack Warner thought that the film's ending was too abrupt and suggested an additional scene in which "Capt. Stephen Jameson" is having breakfast with "May Kennedy" when he receives a phone call from the warden telling him that "Joe 'Red' Kennedy" has died.
       Additional information in the Warner Bros. collection reveals that director Michael Curtiz shot the additional scenes in Jan 1937 but the scenes were later reshot by Bacon in Mar, after star Pat O'Brien's return to the studio following a six-week vacation. A studio memo from Associate producer Sam Bischoff to Producer Hal B. Wallis complained that the sequence, as shot by Curtiz, was not a sufficiently serious ending to the tragic situation that had transpired. The released film retained the original ending, Red's death at the gate to San Quentin. It is possible that the running time of 70 minutes, which was mentioned in some reviews, was based on the temporarily added footage. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Mar 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Aug 37
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Mar 37
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Nov 36
p. 36.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Aug 37
p. 40.
New York Times
4 Aug 37
p. 15.
Variety
28 Jul 37
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
Contr to dial
Contr to trmt
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d unit photog
Addl photog
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
SOURCES
SONGS
"How Could You," music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Al Dubin
"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," music and lyrics by Jean Kenbrovin, John William Kellette
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Captain of the Yard
Release Date:
7 August 1937
Production Date:
5 October--10 November 1936
retakes in mid January 1937
final retakes began on 5 March 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 July 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7287
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70
Length(in feet):
6,321
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
2752
SYNOPSIS

In the wake of riots at San Quentin Prison, in which convicts protest harsh punishments meted out by captain of the yard Druggin, Army trainer Stephen Jameson is appointed to take over the job. Steve is eager to implement his ideas for prison reform. While celebrating with a couple of his army pals the night before he starts his new job, Steve meets captivating nightclub singer May Kennedy who is singing under the stage name Mae De Villiers. As they get acquainted, her kid brother, Joe "Red" Kennedy, a petty crook, bursts into the room, followed by the police, who arrest him for robbing a bank. Because the robbery is not his first offense, Joe is sentenced to San Quentin, where he quickly falls in with the wrong crowd. When May visits Joe in prison, she discovers that Steve is responsible for implementing what she interprets as harsh treatment of her brother, and breaks off their relationship. Despite opposition from the parole board, Steve continues his efforts to improve conditions at San Quentin. Slowly, Joe realizes the fair principles behind Steve's regulations. As a result, he refuses to join his friend, Sailor Boy Hansen, in an escape attempt. However, when Sailor suggests that Steve has given Joe special treatment only to ingratiate himself with May, Joe becomes furious and agrees to make the break. During their escape, Sailor is killed, while Joe heads for May's house. Steve is there waiting and convinces Joe that he was duped by Sailor. When the police arrive, Joe escapes out the back, intending to return to prison. Unfortunately, just outside the prison, he is ... +


In the wake of riots at San Quentin Prison, in which convicts protest harsh punishments meted out by captain of the yard Druggin, Army trainer Stephen Jameson is appointed to take over the job. Steve is eager to implement his ideas for prison reform. While celebrating with a couple of his army pals the night before he starts his new job, Steve meets captivating nightclub singer May Kennedy who is singing under the stage name Mae De Villiers. As they get acquainted, her kid brother, Joe "Red" Kennedy, a petty crook, bursts into the room, followed by the police, who arrest him for robbing a bank. Because the robbery is not his first offense, Joe is sentenced to San Quentin, where he quickly falls in with the wrong crowd. When May visits Joe in prison, she discovers that Steve is responsible for implementing what she interprets as harsh treatment of her brother, and breaks off their relationship. Despite opposition from the parole board, Steve continues his efforts to improve conditions at San Quentin. Slowly, Joe realizes the fair principles behind Steve's regulations. As a result, he refuses to join his friend, Sailor Boy Hansen, in an escape attempt. However, when Sailor suggests that Steve has given Joe special treatment only to ingratiate himself with May, Joe becomes furious and agrees to make the break. During their escape, Sailor is killed, while Joe heads for May's house. Steve is there waiting and convinces Joe that he was duped by Sailor. When the police arrive, Joe escapes out the back, intending to return to prison. Unfortunately, just outside the prison, he is shot and killed by prison guards. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.