A crooked deputy warden at San Quentin Penitentiary tries to frame a sergeant of the guards, Jack Holden, for the killing of a guard and a prisoner during a jailbreak. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Dedicated to Warden Clinton T Duffy and The Men of San Quentin.
Not as bad as you might think "Men of San Quentin" is based on a story by Martin Mooney who's best known for the screenplay in the Film-Noir classic "Detour", released some three years later in 1945 , even though Mooney's name wasn't in the movies credits. Mooney besides all his other talents was also an ex-convict who after he was released from prison went into writing mostly stories about persons like himself who served, or is serving, time in prison and who later made something of themselves when released and allowed to enter back into society.
At first "Men of San Quentin" seems like your average run-of-the-mill prison movie but as it moves along you can see it's a lot more interesting. With it's focus more on the corruption and indifference of the prison authorities then on the criminal behavior and violence of the prison inmates. The film also tries to show how prison is, or should be, not to punish or torture those inmates in it but to reform rehabilitate and straighten them out. Thus making them productive and law abiding citizens when their eventually released.
With the warden of San Quentin not quite up to the job of keeping conditions in his prison on the up and up riots and a number of killing erupt among the inmates. The warden delegating his control to prison guard Sgt. Jack Holden,J. Anthony Hughes. That makes the second in command of the prison Deputy Saunderson, Charles Middleton,resentful.Deputy Ssaunderson plans with the help of some scared and blackmailed prisoners to frame Holden in a multiple murder and have him put behind bars, as well as in the San Quentin gas chamber.
Sauderson taking advantage of a triple killing of two prisoners and a prison guard in an escape attempt where Holden was on the scene to arrest the convict/killer Butch Mason, Dick Curtis. Saunderson get's Mason to withdraw his confession and put the blame on Holden with a promise by him to see to it that he doesn't get the death penalty. Which was unbelievably stupid on his part in that Holden would somehow have murdered the three persons but at the same time left Mason alive to implicate him in the killings!
Saunderson now putting his plan into motion has Holden's wife Anne, Eleanor Stewart, take in her home on the San Quentin Prison grounds convict Jimmy, Jeffery Sayre,as a houseboy and gardener. Jimmy is to plant a gun in or around the Holden house. It turned out to be planted in the Holden's Vctory Garden in order to frame Sgt. Holden in the Butch Mason murders.
Things don't go as good as Sanderson would have hoped when Holden is made warden of San Quentin over him! Holden ,now running the place, finds out about the torture chamber that Saunderson had installed in the prison with the previous warden both ignorant of it and kept out of the loop by his second in command Deputy Saunderson.
Jimmy guilt-ridden in trying to frame the fair and kind-hearted Warden Holden comes clean and tells Anne about what he was made to do by the corrupt Deputy Sanderson. Showing up at the Holden household Sanderson is confronted by Jimmy and the Holdens with Jimmy pulling out a gun, that he was to frame Holden with, and shooting Saunderson dead and then turning it on himself.
The remainder of the film "Men of San Quentin" has Warden Holden give the inmates a chance to regain their lives and dignity in and out of prison. The movie also has Holden break up a prison escape by talking the convicts out of it not having them gunned down and killed by the prison guards.
The film ends on a patriotic note we have the San Quentin Men's Choir, exclusively made up of inmates, singing the song "The Red White and Blue".
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