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The Big House (1930)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  14 June 1930 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,113 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 19 critic

A convict falls in love with his new cellmate's sister, only to become embroiled in a planned break-out which is certain to have lethal consequences.

Directors:

(as George Hill) , (uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (additional dialogue) (as Joe Farnham) , 1 more credit »
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Title: The Big House (1930)

The Big House (1930) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Butch
...
Warden
...
Kent
...
Anne
George F. Marion ...
Pop
J.C. Nugent ...
Mr. Marlowe
...
Olsen
DeWitt Jennings ...
Wallace
Matthew Betz ...
Gopher (as Mathew Betz)
...
Mrs. Marlowe
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Donlin (as Robert Emmet O'Connor)
Tom Kennedy ...
Uncle Jed (scenes deleted)
Tom Wilson ...
Sandy
Eddie Foyer ...
Dopey
Edit

Storyline

After a manslaughter conviction from drunk driving, nice but foolish Kent is sent to a prison over-crowded and unable to properly deal with it's inmates. There he meets veteran criminals like Morgan and his hardened pal Butch. And the system punishes them all, turning them against each other and bringing out the worst. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Timely! Tremendous! Thrilling! Drama of Love and a Jail-Break!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

14 June 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carcere  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In Frances Marion's original script, the characters played by Leila Hyams and Robert Montgomery were husband and wife. After the film flopped in a preview screening, MGM studio executive Irving Thalberg decided that the problem was that audiences, especially women, didn't want to see the Chester Morris character have an affair with a married woman. So the script was rewritten to make Montgomery and Hyams brother and sister. Scenes were reshot and the film, in its modified form, became a major hit. See more »

Goofs

The position of Wallace Beery'd head in relation to the wall in the letter sequence with Morris. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: Who, me?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Some of the Best (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Ring the Bells of Heaven
(1866) (uncredited)
Music by George Frederick Root
Words by William O. Cushing
Sung by the Prisoners in Chapel
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Crashing Out
5 October 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Even after 77 years, The Big House is still the grand daddy of all prison films. Though films like Shawshank Redemption and a personal favorite of mine, Brubaker, with no Code restrictions can be a lot more graphic, still The Big House will shock as well as entertain.

Wallace Beery got a Best Actor nomination for being hardened killer Butch Schmidt who's a lifer in the state penitentiary. He and cell mate Chester Morris have a new man in their little abode in the person of a young Robert Montgomery.

Montgomery's only a kid, but he's done a man size crime of manslaughter in a vehicular homicide where he was no doubt good and sloshed on prohibition rotgut. Montgomery is a weakling in a place where that's not a good thing.

All the clichés about prison films really do start here, culminating in the final crash-out where a whole lot of people get themselves killed. It's a scene well staged, very similar to the breakout in Brute Force.

As the story progresses you'll see plot elements from Brute Force and from Warner Brothers Each Dawn I Die. The cast does a marvelous job and that also includes Lewis Stone as a Judge Hardy like warden.

If you like prison films, this one's the grand daddy of them all.


16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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