IMDb > The Big House (1930)
The Big House
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

The Big House (1930) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

User Rating:
7.2/10   1,022 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
No change 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:
Jail House Classic Still Rocks 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)
Create a character page for: ?

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


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
Create a character page for: ?

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:
Lon Chaney was originally cast in the role of Butch Schmidt. But due to his untimely illness, the role was given to Wallace Beery.See more »
Goofs:
Boom mic visible: When Anne comes to visit Kent at the prison, and he walks up and says 'Hi sis,' the shadow of the microphone falls across her.See more »
Quotes:
Prison guard:If you don't open the gates and let 'em out, they're gonna kill all the guards beginning with Wallace.
Warden:I'll see 'em in Hell first. Let 'em have it!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Chicago (2002)See more »
Soundtrack:
TapsSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
15 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Jail House Classic Still Rocks, 2 January 2001
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA

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.

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

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Big House (1930)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Scene with a coal/mining car? chris-865-646539
Warner now selling this DVD exclusively on their webpage simonhowson
Urgent need for DVD release rndicenso
WHAT HAPPENED TO KARL DANE? PATRICK1962
Just saw it (spoilers) profprimbud
Lon Chaney gilbert1926
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
The Criminal Code The Dark Knight The Usual Suspects Chattahoochee Death Wish 3
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Drama section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.