It may not be Oz, but San Quentin is plenty tough for its time and filled with the kind of no-nonsense performances that only a Warner Bros. stock company could deliver. Although most of the prison movie clichés are present and accounted for, Humphrey Bogart, Joe Sawyer, Veda Ann Borg, and company at least give the impression that they are new and fresh. Pat O'Brien and Ann Sheridan, meanwhile, take care of the romantic interludes with little or no fuss and director Lloyd Bacon keeps things moving at a fast clip. Filming of San Quentin was not without its fair share of problems, however; according to the trade paper Variety, supporting player Tom Manning died of a heart attack on the set and his scenes had to be re-taken after main photography had already wrapped.
by Hans J. Wollstein review