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Cool Item Of the Week: San Quentin pressbook

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Added: 07/22/2013

As many of you know, I, Bruce Hershenson, owner of, have collected pressbooks (and related movie paper like studio yearbooks) for over 30 years, and I have the world's foremost collection of such material. I thought I would share one item with you each week, the type of items you almost surely have never seen before, and which might not come up for sale for DECADES!

This week, I have the pressbook from San Quentin, the 1937 Lloyd Bacon California maximum security prison romantic crime melodrama ("They fought for love of a dame... And the hate of each other!"; the old story of a new prison warden who falls for the older sister of a tough criminal who hates him) starring Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Barton MacLane, Joseph Sawyer, James Robbins, and Gordon Oliver. Note that, for unknown reasons, Ann Sheridan is referred to in the movie as Humphrey Bogart's older sister (he is called her "kid brother"), but actually, Bogart was 11 years older than Sheridan!

Also note that, in a very unusual move, Warner Bros did NOT devote the back cover of the pressbook to the posters for San Quentin (as they almost always did), but instead they moved those to interior pages, and devoted the entire back cover to an ad for "They Won't Forget", which they were apparently pushing VERY hard to theater owners!

Of course, "They Won't Forget" is the the 1937 Mervyn LeRoy anti-Semitic frame-up Southern courtroom lawyer murder mystery crime melodrama ("Talk and DIE..."; "Until Now their lips were frozen with fear!"; "The story the nation whispered now thunders from the screen!"; "The picture the whole world is talking about!"; taken directly from the 1915 Mary Phagan murder case, and it follows the facts very closely; in that case, a 14 year-old white Georgia girl was found murdered, and she worked in a factory owned by a Jewish man named Leo Frank, and even though all evidence pointed towards the black janitor, the publisher of the leading Atlanta newspaper chose to create a case against Frank, both because he was a Northerner and because he was Jewish; after a sensational case with little evidence, Frank was found guilty and sentenced to death; the governor of Georgia commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, which ended his career; while on the way to prison, Frank was kidnapped and lynched; the entire sordid story was documented in the novel "Death in the Deep South" by Aben Kandel, and it was that novel that was the basis for this movie; in reality, one year after the events, the black janitor in fact confessed to the murder; the movie had one substantial difference from the book and from reality, which is that it did not ever explicitly state in any way in the movie that the man was Jewish, but we believe most viewers were able to "put two and two together") starring Claude Rains, Gloria Dickson, Edward Norris, Otto Kruger, Allyn Joslyn, and a super young Lana Turner (in one of her earliest roles, as the sexy teenager who is murdered early in the movie!)

Here is an image of the covers and an interior spread:

Each week I will showcase a different pressbook (or related item) from my collection (so in just 20,000 weeks or so, I will have shared the entire collection with you!). And remember to check out our previous Cool Items of the Week in our Cool Item of the Week archive (which is now fully searchable!).

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