A Movie A Day: Quint's seen SAN QUENTIN (1937) Now that you've had a good look at my face, how do ya' like it?
Published at: June 20, 2008, 10:19 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today I took a look at 1937’s SAN QUENTIN starring Pat O’Brien as an army man who is brought in to bring order to the inmates at San Quentin prison, Ann Sheridan as a lounge singer that O’Brien has the hots for and Humphrey Bogart in an early role as a criminal with a good man locked up inside… oh, and he’s incarcerated, under O’Brien’s rule… and happens to be Sheridan’s brother.
We follow Sheridan over from yesterday’s James Cagney vehicle CITY FOR CONQUEST. She’s gorgeous here, but definitely plays a smaller role. She sings a beautiful song called ‘How Could You?’ ending it looking O’Brien deep in the eyes. She flashes him a smile… the type of smile that explains why wars were started over love. You can’t fault the guy for falling for her.
Not that there’s anything wrong with their romance, except that later on O’Brien is accused of favoritism when he’s been nothing but fair to everybody.
The film is only 70 minutes long and there’s not a whole lot going on, but we get a good glimpse at prison life as we follow Bogart through his fish days.
I love Bogie. It’s actually kinda funny… If I’m not mistaken, his character in DARK PASSAGE (next to CASABLANCA my favorite Bogart film) is newly escaped from San Quentin… I wonder if these two would work screening back to back…
Anyway, I was a bit worried that Bogart would play a very minor role, but he is second billed for a reason… and while O’Brien starts off the film and is top billed, the movie is about Bogart’s Joe Kennedy.
Kennedy has the biggest arc, the biggest internal conflict and drives all the other characters in the story. All the drama seems to be surrounding his character… the accusations of favoritism, the quandary of whether or not to try escape while working the road work detail, the consequences of that decision… all surround Bogart’s character.
And he’s great in the movie. Not quite CASABLANCA or MALTESE FALCON iconic, but the charisma is there.