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Duffy of San Quentin

3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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(May 07, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Clinton T. Duffy (Paul Kelly) suddenly has a job few would ever want. He’s the interim warden at San Quentin, given the job for 30 days after violence and corruption swept what was then the nation’s largest prison facility. Duffy aims to make his few days matter, cracking down on notorious guards, wiping out a stool-pigeon network and hiring the institute’s first female nurse (Joanne Dru). The reforms take hold. Duffy’s 30 days would become 12 years. Based on his memoir, Duffy of San Quentin tells the story of the warden’s pivotal early tenure through the prism of his interactions with volatile inmate Edward Harper (Louis Hayward). Filmmaker Walter Doniger guides the action. He next made the prison film The Steel Cage (with Kelly and Maureen O’Sullivan returning as the Duffys) and explored life behind bars again in The Steel Jungle. As a trivia note to this film: look for DeForest Kelly in the role of a detective.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Louis Hayward, Joanne Dru, Paul Kelly, Maureen O'Sullivan
  • Directors: Walter Doniger
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: May 7, 2013
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CP77VQC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,486 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Format: DVD
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had no idea that San Quentin was in Marin County California. So my sojourn into prison life began with this film. What a journey and very impressed with the treatment of the delicate subject of wrongly imprisoned inmates. I was horrified by the corporal punishment routinely relinquished by hardened guards.

I have no experience in trying to tame unruly, ruthless, evil criminals and imagine that San Quentin saw the worst of them. How could a brand new warden make an impact. Well, this story provides an insight on how to make a difference. How well this Hollywood version is true to the facts is unknown but I know well that one person can definitely make a difference in this world.

High recommend for perspectives on obstinate determined and wife loving wardens who strive for excellence. I pray for the many wrongfully imprisoned people who deserve a second chance to prove their innocence.
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The subject of the title of the film was a great warden who, through his resourceful innovative management skills did a tremendous job of reforming San Quentin Prison. This film does not quite do justice to the title's character. It takes a lot of poetic liberties with the real story of San Quentin under Warden Duffy's tenure. It would have been better to tell the story the way it really was instead of this drivel. One part that does seem correct, is the relationship between Clinton Duffy and his wife Gladys portrayed with sensitivity by Maureen O'Sullivan.
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Louis Hayward, the leading actor and Walter Doniger the director put together a relatively low budget picture shot on location at San Quentin prison with a star or near in almost every part. Joanne Dru, Maureen O'Sullivan, George Macready and the unsung Irving Bacon. Produced independently and placed with WB for distribution, its success lead to a sequel, The Steel Cage, using left over footage and episodes of an unsold Duffy of San Quentin television series. For what it is, well done.
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