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Hell's House (1932)

 -  Drama  -  30 January 1932 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 603 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 14 critic

Jimmy idolizes bootlegger Matt, and when he refuses to implicate his friend, he is sent to reform school. He befriends Shorty, a boy with a heart condition, and escapes to let the world know about the brutal conditions.

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Title: Hell's House (1932)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Matt Kelly
Junior Durkin ...
Jimmy Mason (as Junior Dirkin)
Frank Coghlan Jr. ...
Shorty (as Junior Coughlin)
Emma Dunn ...
Emma Clark
...
Henry Clark (as Charles Grapewin)
Morgan Wallace ...
Frank Gebhardt
Hooper Atchley ...
Captain of the Guard
Wallis Clark ...
Judge Robinson (as Wallace Clark)
James A. Marcus ...
Superintendant Charles Thompson (as James Marcus)
Edit

Storyline

Jimmy Mason idolizes bootlegger Matt Kelly who is dating Peggy. Unwilling to squeal on his idol, Jimmy winds up in a cruel reformatory where a new- found friend is dying from abuse. Jimmy escapes to report the abuse. Matt and Peggy help him once he has escaped. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 January 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Juvenile Court  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Peggy Gardner: If you'd give the kid a chance, Kelly, he might amount to something, instead of always thinking about yourself.
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Connections

Referenced in All About Bette (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

A Young Davis and O'Brien
29 August 2009 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Hell's House (1932)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Low-budget crime/melodrama is best remembered for the early views of Pat O'Brien and Bette Davis. In the film, a young boy (Junior Durkin) moves to New York after the death of his mother where he quickly looks up to Matt (O'Brien). What the boy doesn't know is that Matt is a bootlegger and he ends up taking the rap for a crime and sent to an abusive reform school. The boy is trapped there unless Matt can grow some guts and admit that he is the one who should be behind bars. This film beat the Warner/James Cagney drama THE MAYOR OF HELL into theaters by nearly a year so I'm curious if this is one of those small studios hearing about a major studios work and then trying to race a finished product into theaters. The film certainly comes off that way because it has the structure of a decent drama but everything seems so rushed that they forgot to add any heart or soul. The movie is pretty flat, especially compared to the Cagney film and its several remakes, because we really don't see too much here. This reform school is suppose to be "hell's house" yet we hardly ever see any of the abuse or torments that the boys are going through. O'Brien's character is underwritten pretty badly as is his girlfriend played by Davis. The two actors are the main reason to see the film because they both come off very likable. O'Brien gets to shine in the role of the bad guy with a heart and it's easy to see why Warner signed him up. Davis doesn't come off as good but it's fun seeing a legend pay her dues. Durkin also does pretty good in his role but I thought he was a lot more believable in his "country boy" state early in the film rather than the hero at the end.


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