MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 2,433 this week

The Big House (1930)

Passed  -  Drama | Romance | Thriller  -  14 June 1930 (USA)
7.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,036 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 17 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), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

Editors' Spotlight

Staff Picks: Favorite Horror Movies

We asked IMDb staffers to provide their favorite horror movies.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 35 titles
created 01 Jun 2012
 
a list of 25 titles
created 18 Mar 2013
 
a list of 23 titles
created 30 Oct 2013
 
a list of 38 titles
created 9 months ago
 
a list of 28 titles
created 8 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "The Big House" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Big House (1930)

The Big House (1930) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Big House.
Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Viva Villa! (1934)
Biography | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. ... See full summary »

Directors: Jack Conway, Howard Hawks, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Wallace Beery, Fay Wray, Leo Carrillo
Min and Bill (1930)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Min, the owner of a dockside hotel, is forced to make difficult decisions about the future of Nancy, the young woman she took in as an infant.

Director: George W. Hill
Stars: Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Dorothy Jordan
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John has lead a solitary life for thirty years since the death of Moonyeen Clare. But now Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, orphaned when her parents were... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard
7th Heaven (1927)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A street cleaner saves a young woman's life, and the pair slowly fall in love until war intervenes.

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ben Bard
War | Drama | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

World War I ace Dick Courtney derides the leadership of his superior officer, but Courtney is soon promoted to squadron commander and learns harsh lessons about sending subordinates to their deaths.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Hildy Johnson, newspaper reporter, is engaged to Peggy Grant and planning to move to New York for a higher paying advertising job. The court press room is full of lame reporters who invent ... See full summary »

Director: Lewis Milestone
Stars: Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien, Mary Brian
Romance (1930)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Young Harry is in love and wants to marry an actress, much to the displeasure of his family. Harry thinks that Bishop Armstrong knows nothing about love so Armstrong tells him the story of ... See full summary »

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Greta Garbo, Lewis Stone, Gavin Gordon
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The daughter of a struggling musician forms a symphony orchestra made up of his unemployed friends and through persistence, charm and a few misunderstandings, is able to get Leopold ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Adolphe Menjou, Alice Brady
Certificate: Passed Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

An airplane carrying three Brits--Major Crespin, his wife Lucille, and Dr. Trahern--crash lands in the kingdom of Rukh. The Rajah holds them prisoner because the British are about to ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: George Arliss, Ralph Forbes, H.B. Warner
The Big Pond (1930)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A tour guide in Venice romances a visiting American tourist whose father owns a chewing-gum factory back in the U.S. She sets out to convince her skeptical father to bring the tour guide to America and give him a job in the plant.

Director: Hobart Henley
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, George Barbier
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

French-language version of "The Big House" (MGM, 1930), with Charles Boyer in Chester Morris's role, filmed by MGM parallel to the English-speaking version, at a time when good subtitles weren't yet in use.

Directors: Pál Fejös, George W. Hill, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Charles Boyer, André Berley, André Burgère
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Nancy Carroll, Phillips Holmes, James Kirkwood
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Morgan
...
Butch
Lewis Stone ...
Warden
...
Kent
...
Anne
George F. Marion ...
Pop
J.C. Nugent ...
Mr. Marlowe
Karl Dane ...
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 »
Edit

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

The first film to receive an Academy Award for Best Sound. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: What's your name?
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: [after getting no response] I said what's your name?
Kent: Kent Moreland.
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: Mine's Schmidt. I'm known the world over as "Machine Gun Butch." You heard of me naturally.
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: [after Kent shakes his head 'no.'] Ever hear of the Delaney Gang bein' wiped out?
See more »


Soundtracks

Taps
(1862) (uncredited)
Music by Daniel Butterfield
Played offscreen by a bugler
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Jail House Classic Still Rocks
2 January 2001 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

THE BIG HOUSE - prison of no hope - the last terminal for lost souls. Only the strong survive; the weak crack or are corrupted. As the warden shrewdly tells a new arrival, the place won't make you go yellow, but it you already are yellow it'll bring it out.

MGM was the only studio in Hollywood which would have let a female write the script for such a strong story. But in Frances Marion they not only had the most celebrated screenwriter in the industry, but also a person uniquely qualified to write about any situation. She headed off to California's notorious San Quentin Prison to observe the conditions & learn the lingo. Cheerfully deflecting the jibes & taunts of guards & prisoners alike, she reminded them that after being a frontline correspondent in the Great War there were few situations she couldn't handle.

The result is a wonderful film, tough, hard-bitten & stark. MGM did itself proud by supplying a terrific cast and production values. The scene where belligerent Wallace Beery refuses to eat the commissary slop remains a classic.

Chester Morris does a fine job as a resourceful crook who is actually helped by his time in prison, reformed against his will. This excellent actor is too often ignored when the histories of 1930's cinema are written. Wallace Beery, as murderous Butch, is absolutely unforgettable. Marion wrote the part with him in mind & it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing it. Lovable & dangerous in equal measure, he steals every scene he's in. THE BIG HOUSE would set Beery firmly on the road to major talkie stardom.

Robert Montgomery, on the cusp of his own salad days as a sophisticated, romantic leading man, here plays quite a different role. As a weak, cowardly stool pigeon, he's cast very much against type. It would be 1937's NIGHT MUST FALL before he received another such finely-nuanced role.

Lewis Stone is very effective in the small role as the tough-as-nails warden. Beautiful Leila Hyams is well-cast as Mongomery's spunky sister. George F. Marion & DeWitt Jennings are both memorable as elderly security guards. Champion stutterer Roscoe Ates provides a few moments of much needed comic relief.

Karl Dane is easily spotted as a hulking convict in several scenes, but he is curiously mute. Doubtless, his thick Danish accent was already giving the Studio trouble. Even though he had been an important comic star in silent pictures, he was quickly relegated to talkie bit parts. He was eventually further reduced to selling hot dogs from a cart outside the MGM front gates. This was the final indignity. He committed suicide in 1934.

Preview audiences were curiously cool to THE BIG HOUSE, until MGM executive Irving Thalberg figured out that female viewers didn't like con Chester Morris romancing another prisoner's wife. Thalberg instructed Marion to rewrite a few scenes and refilming made it clear that Leila Hyams was Robert Montgomery's sister, not his spouse. This pleased the patrons and the movie was a big hit.


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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
WHAT HAPPENED TO KARL DANE? PATRICK1962
Urgent need for DVD release rndicenso
Warner now selling this DVD exclusively on their webpage simonhowson
Lon Chaney gilbert1926
Scene with a coal/mining car? chris-865-646539
Discuss The Big House (1930) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?