IMDb > The Big House (1930)
The Big House
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The Big House (1930) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

User Rating:
7.2/10   1,028 votes »
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Up 28% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Frances Marion (story)
Joseph Farnham (additional dialogue) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Big House on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 June 1930 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Timely! Tremendous! Thrilling! Drama of Love and a Jail-Break!
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(35 articles)
User Reviews:
A great character study and view of the prison system See more (18 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Chester Morris ... Morgan

Wallace Beery ... Butch
Lewis Stone ... Warden

Robert Montgomery ... Kent

Leila Hyams ... Anne
George F. Marion ... Pop
J.C. Nugent ... Mr. Marlowe
Karl Dane ... Olsen
DeWitt Jennings ... Wallace
Matthew Betz ... Gopher (as Mathew Betz)

Claire McDowell ... Mrs. Marlowe
Robert Emmett O'Connor ... Donlin (as Robert Emmet O'Connor)
Tom Kennedy ... Uncle Jed (scenes deleted)
Tom Wilson ... Sandy
Eddie Foyer ... Dopey
Roscoe Ates ... Putnam (as Rosco Ates)
Fletcher Norton ... Oliver
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Noah Beery Jr. ... Convict in Yard (uncredited)
Edgar Dearing ... Inmate (uncredited)
Ethan Laidlaw ... Trustee (uncredited)
Eddie Lambert ... Inmate (uncredited)
George Magrill ... Convict in Yard (uncredited)
Chris-Pin Martin ... Inmate (uncredited)
Louis Natheaux ... Morgan's Lawyer (uncredited)
Charles O'Malley ... Inmate (uncredited)
Angelo Rossitto ... Inmate (uncredited)
Adolph Seidel ... Prison Barber (uncredited)
Michael Vavitch ... Inmate (uncredited)
Harry Wilson ... Inmate #46375 (uncredited)

Directed by
George W. Hill  (as George Hill)
Ward Wing (additional director) (uncredited)
 
Writing credits
Frances Marion (story and dialogue)

Joseph Farnham (additional dialogue) (as Joe Farnham) and
Martin Flavin (additional dialogue)

Produced by
Irving Thalberg .... producer (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Harold Wenstrom (photographed by)
 
Film Editing by
Blanche Sewell (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Harry Sharrock .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Robert Shirley .... recording engineer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
David Cox .... wardrobe by
 
Music Department
William Axt .... composer: title music (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
USA:87 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Certification:
Finland:(Banned) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
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 The Big House (1930) being a huge hit, and Beery earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, he was back in favor, to the extent of becoming the world's highest paid actor within two years.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The hallway area outside Butch and Kent's cell changes between scenes, possibly due to re-shoots (see trivia).See more »
Quotes:
John Morgan:You know it means the rope, Butch, if they catch you? Who's in on it?
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt:Well, me and Olsen and Joe and the Hawk.
John Morgan:The Hawk? That means blood.
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt:No, he promised me he wouldn't bump nobody off.
John Morgan:Why, he croaked his own mother.
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt:Sure he did. He cut her throat. He was sorry for it. He's all right.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Chicago (2002)See more »
Soundtrack:
Ring the Bells of HeavenSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
14 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
A great character study and view of the prison system, 4 August 2000
Author: Harmony Jones from Los Angeles, CA

I saw "The Big House" last night as part of Turner Classic Movies' tribute to Frances Marion, the great female screenwriter. Marion became the first woman to win an Academy Award for screenwriting for her work on this film.

"The Big House" is a fascinating character study, showing how three very different men deal with being imprisoned. Butch (Wallace Beery) lords over all of the men with a knife and threats of violence. John Morgan (Chester Morris) is smart enough to befriend Butch and his crew, but keeps his own set of values. Newcomer Kent Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) is terrified of prison and eventually turns "rat" in hopes of being released.

The film also infers that the public at large is partly to blame for the discontent (and eventual unrest) within the prison: at one moment, the head warden says something to the effect of the public wanting to put criminals in prison, but not wanting to spend the money to build more prisons to accommodate them. This is issue is still debated to this day.

I also found the portrayal of the lone female character, Anne Marlowe (Kent's sister, played by Leila Hyams), very refreshing and unexpected. Instead of the crying, simpering type we might expect in a prison movie, we are given a smart and compassionate woman who owns her own business.

All of the actors gave excellent, realistic performances and Frances Marion's screenplay was well-deserving of the accolades it received. The insight and sensitivity that she used to write about these characters and this place surpasses most of the scripts written by men on the same subject.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (18 total) »

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