Women of San Quentin (1983) Debbie Allen, Stella Stevens, Amy Steel, Rosanna DeSoto, Hector Elizondo, Yaphet Kotto Movie Review

Women of San Quentin (1983)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Debbie Allen in Women of San Quentin (1983)

Prison Life: A Guard's Story

Lt. Janet Alexander (Amy Steel) has just been through the academy and now finds herself at her first post, the notoriously tough San Quentin where she soon discovers being a female guard in a men's prison is tougher than she imagined. But soon the guards become aware of a planned rumble between the African-American and Mexican prisoners and it is now a matter of finding out when and where this fight is going to happen before they have a full blown riot on their hands.

"Women of San Quentin" is a misleading movie and that starts with a title which makes me think of the exploitation movies from the 70s which if you are a late night movie fan you might find on when most people are asleep. But nope "Women of San Quentin" is not a movie along the lines of say "Bare Behind Bars" despite the title; instead this is a movie which wants to focus on the women who work as guards in prisons where they have to deal with male prisoners as well as sexist male guards.

But "Women of San Quentin" wants to be more than just that and so to give the movie extra drama we have interracial issues going on with some stereotyping as we have African-American and Hispanic prison gangs kicking off which is building to some riot trouble. Whilst typical of this era of movie this stereotyping is terrible but so is the whole riot, rumble storyline doesn't really get that enthralling and certainly doesn't feel that realistic.

So yes basically "Women of San Quentin" is disappointing and doesn't really work as either a drama or a look at the life of women guards in a male prison. But what sort of makes "Women of San Quentin" still entertaining is the game of spot the actor because there are many familiar faces in this movie from Ernie Hudson to Stella Stevens. It is about as entertaining as it gets as beyond that and a style which at times feels like it is trying to be "Hill Street Blues" it is ordinary.

What this all boils down to is that "Women of San Quentin" is at best a typical made for TV prison movie from the 80s which tries to make the work of the law entertaining. But from stereotypes to a less than enthralling storyline it doesn't really grab your attention or keep it.