The Big House (1930)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  14 June 1930 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,191 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 21 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.


(as George Hill) , (uncredited)


(story), (additional dialogue) (as Joe Farnham) , 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
George F. Marion ...
J.C. Nugent ...
Mr. Marlowe
DeWitt Jennings ...
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 ...
Eddie Foyer ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Passed | See all certifications »





Release Date:

14 June 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Big House  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This movie relaunched Wallace Beery's career. Before the coming of sound, he had been a top supporting player in silent films but had been dropped by his studio when sound came in. With this film being a huge hit, and Beery earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, he was back in favor, and within two years was the world's highest paid actor. See more »


The hallway area outside Butch and Kent's cell changes between scenes, possibly due to re-shoots (see trivia). See more »


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


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


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

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User Reviews

Brilliant acting.
30 May 1999 | by See all my reviews

I really enjoyed this film. It was a refreshing change from the films of today which all seem to have to rely on special effects for the film to be a success. The story of 'The big house' is very good and I would venture an opinion that it was far and above the norm for films of that era. The acting was great from Robert Montgomary as Kent Marlowe and Wallace Beery as Butch Schmidt. Leila Hyams as Anne Marlowe was both a stunning looking, and brilliant actress and stole the film with her looks.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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