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   1,055 votes »
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Up 6% 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:
(36 articles)
User Reviews:
One of the great prison films. 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)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Reggie Lanning .... camera operator (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
David Cox .... wardrobe by
 
Music Department
William Axt .... composer: title music (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

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:
Robert Montgomery and Chester Morris also appeared in The Divorcee (1930), another of that year's Best Film nominees.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:
'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt:[to Morgan] Say, listen. Don't let the guys know you've gone straight. They used to have a lot of respect for you.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Fade to Black (1980)See more »
Soundtrack:
Goin' HomeSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
One of the great prison films., 27 September 2013
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

Over the decades, there have been tons of prison films. Most are pretty entertaining, however, a few, such as "The Big House", are great films and must be seen by serious film buffs. It's not surprising that this film took the Oscar for Best Writing, as Francis Marion's script was the biggest reason this film was so good. It also didn't hurt that you had three exceptional actors (Chester Morris, Wallace Beery and Robert Montgomery) in the leads as well as George Hill's wonderful direction. While Beery was the one who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, for me, the best performance in the film was Montgomery's--he played his part with an amazing intensity you just need to see. As for Morris, he was, as usual, very believable and professional.

The film begins with Kent (Montgomery) arriving in prison. He doesn't feel he belongs there--after all, his killing a person was just an accident, as he was drunk! However, the warden (Lewis Stone) will have none of this and tells Kent he's earned ten years in prison. Through much of the early portion of the film, Kent felt very sorry for himself and kept asking his family about an appeal. I really felt annoyed at this, as Kent seemed to only think about himself and showed no remorse at all. Fortunately, the film did NOT paint him as a victim but as a spineless little jerk--and as the film progresses, you see just how spineless and evil he could be.

Kent has two cell-mates. Butch (Beery) is a sociopathic bully who pushes everyone around except for Morgan (Morris)--and Morgan is the third man in this cell. As for Morgan, he's tough but there is also a certain decency about him and although Beery got the Oscar nomination for Best Actor, clearly Morris was THE star in this film and the movie mostly focused on this guy. As far as what happens next, I really would rather not discuss this as it is just better if you see it for yourself.

As I said above, Montgomery was the standout in this film. His terrified look and pusillanimous body language were great. While he's not usually thought of as a great actor, here in one of his first films he is mesmerizing. The other two are also wonderful--and Lewis Stone is wonderful as the tough but very reasonable warden. But, if you see the film, you'll also realize that the biggest star really is Marion's script. The film is gritty and realistic without being bogged down by clichés. I also loved the direction, as the camera angles and almost film noir-like camera-work really were striking. Well worth your time and proof that early talkies could be just as good as anything made today.

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