Escape from San Quentin


1h 21m 1957

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Malibu--Lake Enchanto, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m

Synopsis

At the San Quentin work farm in Northern California, convicted bank robber Roy Gruber tries to convince Mike Gilbert, an ex-Air Force pilot who has been jailed for robbery, to steal a plane and escape to Vancouver, Canada with him. When Mike becomes irritated by Gruber's constant badgering, Gruber offers to give him some of the $119,000 from the bank robbery. Mike, a first-time offender with only two years remaining of his sentence, refuses Gruber's enticements until he learns that his wife Georgie has tired of being married to a "jail bird" and has asked for a divorce. Gruber consoles the disheartened Mike with a bottle of contraband alcohol and assurances that he can start a new life with his share of the money. Mike, now drunkenly morose, finally agrees to fly Gruber to Vancouver. After knocking out a guard and stealing a truck, they drive to a small airstrip nearby. Hap Graham, a fellow convict, spots them, cuts through the prison fence and follows them. At gunpoint, Hap demands to come along, even though it means the plane will be overloaded. Upon reaching the airstrip, Mike sends Gruber and Hap to keep watch while he hot-wires a plane's engine. Once the engine jumps to life, Mike begins taxiing down the runway and Gruber hops into the plane's cabin. When Hap tries to climb in, Gruber struggles with him, and as the plane rises into the air, Gruber shoves Hap out the door to the ground below. Upon leveling off, Mike discovers that the plane has only enough gas to reach Oregon. Meanwhile, prison authorities notify the Oregon police about the escape and theft of the plane. Consequently, when Mike requests an emergency landing and starts his descent to the Medford, Oregon airport, the police converge on the runway, sending a wary Mike aloft to look for a deserted road on which to land. When the plane sets down on a country road, a concerned driver stops to see if he can help. After Gruber ruthlessly knocks the man unconscious and steals his car, he and Mike head for Los Angeles where Gruber's father Curly is holding the $119,000. Meanwhile, Hap, although badly injured from his fall, assembles his old gang and make plans to find Gruber and the money. Knowing that Gruber's father runs a small gas station on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Hap sends his thugs there to watch for Gruber, unaware that the police also have the gas station under surveillance. After checking into a roadside motel, Gruber phones Richie, a former accomplice who now works for a dry cleaning company. With Gruber hidden in the back of the dry cleaning truck, Richie drives to the gas station and tells Curly to bring the money to the motel. When he notices that Hap's men have staked out the station, Gruber makes an anonymous call to police headquarters, alerting them that he saw some toughs menacing an old man at the gas station. As a result, Hap's gang is arrested. Intent on trying to reconcile with Georgie, Mike visits her younger sister Robbie to ask her to deliver a message. Although Robbie warns Mike that Georgie will go straight to the police, he hands her a paper with the motel's address written on it. Later, when Robbie begs Georgie to talk to Mike, Georgie coldly picks up the phone and dials the police. Angered by her sister's callousness, Robbie blames Georgie's insatiable thirst for money for forcing Mike into a life of crime, then runs away. When Robbie comes to the hotel to talk to Mike, Gruber takes her hostage. Upon learning that Richie was involved in the arrest of his gang, Hap beats him into revealing where Gruber is hiding. After Hap breaks into the room at gunpoint, Richie wrestles for the weapon and is shot in the ensuing melee. Running from the motel, Hap jumps into the truck and speeds off. The police, who are on the lookout for the dry cleaning truck, spot Hap and fire, igniting the gas tank into a ball of flames. Just then, Curly arrives at the motel and Gruber forces the others at gunpoint into his car and drives off. When Curly informs Gruber that he been able to collect only a portion of the $119,000, Gruber sends him to gather the rest while he and the others drive the wounded Richie to Tijuana for medical treatment. After checking into a Mexican hotel that night, Robbie begs Mike to turn himself in, but refuses to take responsibility for his crimes. The next day, Gruber leaves the badly wounded Richie at the hotel to guard Robbie while he and Mike go to the race track to raise money for Richie's treatment. After Gruber pickpockets an elderly woman there, she notifies the police, who then arrest both Mike and Gruber. Gruber hires a lawyer named Mendez to arrange their release, agreeing to pay him $200 for his services. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol, suspecting that Mike and Gruber are transporting drugs across the border, have been watching their hotel. When a telegram arrives from Curly, instructing Gruber to meet him in Ocean Side that night, the police read it first. Upono reading the telegram, Gruber tells Mendez that he will pay him an additional $200 to drive him to Ocean Side. Gruber then goes to the hotel room to collect Richie and Robbie. After the apprehensive Richie demands to be taken to a doctor, the impatient Gruber pushes him down an elevator shaft while Robbie watches in horror. Gruber then forces Mendez, Robbie and Mike to drive across the border to await Curly's arrival. Realizing that Gruber intends to kill Robbie, Mike stalls for time by suggesting that they buy an airplane for their escape. After telling Gruber that he is going to the airport to find a plane, Mike leaves the room, then goes to the motel office to notify the police just as the officers from the Border Patrol arrive and arrest him for drug dealing. Mike laughs, then informs the officers that he and Gruber are escaped convicts. After convincing the police that he is the key to saving Mendez and Robbie, Mike suggests that one of the officers don civilian clothes and pose as the owner of an airplane that Mike is interested in buying. Just after Mike and the disguised officer enter the hotel room, Mendez, locked in the bathroom, smashes the window, panicking Gruber, who fires his gun at the officer. Mike lunges at Gruber, knocking him off balance and saving the officer's life. When the police arrive, the officer attests that Mike saved his life. After the authorities assure Robbie that Mike's act of bravery will result in a reduced sentence, she hugs him.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Clover Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Malibu--Lake Enchanto, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film opens with a voice-over narration that purports to introduce a documentary account of the story. According to a June 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, location shooting was done around Lake Enchanto near Malibu, CA. Although Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts add William Vaughan, Mark Scott, Terry Frost, Perry Ivins, Pierce Lyden, Zon Murray, Armand Alzarmora, Abel Franco, Walter Cary and Arthur Le Ral to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Raymond T. Marcus was a pseudonym used by blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon, according to a letter written by Gordon contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library.