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MERRY ANDERS 'ESCAPE FROM SAN QUENTIN' W/ RICHARD DEVON

Richard Devon with Merry Anders YEAR: 1957 
Continuing an ongoing Cinema of Merry Anders, a beautiful actress from B-Crime flicks that aren't usually "good enough" to be considered a bonafide, by-the-book Film Noir...

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Meaning that the famous genre of what former Cult Film Freak interviewee Coleen Gray... co-star of THE KILLING, KISS OF DEATH, MODELS INC., NIGHTMARE ALLEY, THE SLEEPING CITY, LAS VEGAS SHOWDOWN and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL... described as simply "B-Movies," pretty much makes this a C-Picture... Which isn't such a bad thing given how dull and listless mainstream vehicles were (and still are)...

And so, Merry Anders appeared in a handful of other kinds of crime vehicles from the late 50's and early 60's as well as science fiction (THE TIME TRAVELERS), a Western (THE DALTON GIRLS) and a music trend propaganda (CALYPSO HEAT WAVE)... And so, stuck in a purgatory between Crime and Cult and yet, unlike AIR PATROL, RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA or THE HYPNOTIC EYE, this is more Film Noir than anything else, despite the action-faring, plot-describing title, which can mislead viewers into thinking ESCAPE FROM SAN QUENTIN centers more on high octane breakout bedlam than dialogue-driven suspense with a side dish of gun-wielding intrigue...

Crime flick cure for a broken elevator
All the usual hackneyed prison devices are absent, including makeshift underground tunnels, irritable guards, a Fascist warden and convicts tapping messages on the walls...

Instead, one man's occupation, or in this case, previous skill is what makes real life crooner Johnny Desmond a lucrative player for his hardened convict and cellmate "buddy" Richard Devon, whose tough lifer character, Roy, unlike Johnny's Mike who has only two years left, goads him into flying a small plane to freedom in what's ultimately a much too easy escape, especially for the movie to be named after: the duo headed to the same town where Roy buried a bag of loot.

The good guy's no-good wife, who wants nothing to do with the escaped getaway flier, has a younger sister in Merry Anders' girl-next-door, Robbie, with a lifelong crush on her brother-in-law. She alone turns out being used and abused by the film's progressively desperate and vile heavy, Devon's Roy, in order to keep his sidekick from ratting out and ruining the whole plan: One that entails far more than picking up a load of hidden cash – Roy didn't steal that money by himself, but he alone buried it (later revisited in THE SLAMS with Jim Brown)..

Movie Score: ***
There are far too many cooks here, making ESCAPE a proverbial crowded room in an otherwise vacant house: Merry Andrews is pretty and vulnerable while Johnny Desmond (singing just one tune while lounging in prison) has an easygoing and laidback aura... Perhaps too much so...

Merry Anders and Richard Devon
It's his vicious cellmate, and overall orchestrator, in over his head with the assembly of 11th hour goons, who not only carries the picture but is the only person carried by the plot he's responsible for. Plus, his anti-chemistry with our token distressed-damsel far exceeds her romantic connection with our hero...

Other than being a pilot, Desmond rides a passive shotgun in what is, though flawed, the most relevant movie in an odd DVD compilation titled TALES FROM THE PRISON YARD: Unlike that collection's THE LAST DETAIL, which is to prison flicks what AMERICAN GRAFFITI is to college, and the Vince Edwards genuine Noir, CITY OF FEAR, at least ESCAPE FROM SAN QUENTIN has an actual prison within its plot and structure: That first act taking place behind bars, though somewhat rushed, is like a short movie in itself: one that truly stars buried lead/stock heavy Richard Devon, the only character who really needs something and who will return in another C-Picture covered here shortly – directed by Roger Corman and starring Dick Miller titled WAR OF THE SATELLITES.
Rid of the title for the cover photo on our MERRY ANDERS Facebook Fan Page so CLICK HERE TO LIKE THE GORGEOUS MERRY
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