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Hell's House (1932)

 -  Drama  -  30 January 1932 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 560 users  
Reviews: 15 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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(story), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Title: Hell's House (1932)

Hell's House (1932) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Peggy Gardner
...
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)
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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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in All About Bette (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Is it OK, or a KO ?
11 December 2011 | by (Pretoria, South Africa) – See all my reviews

This is only the second feature film directed by Howard Higgin that I get to see, and unfortunately confirms my suspicion that his craftsmanship still lagged behind other directors of the time, such as Edmund Goulding, Mervyn LeRoy, Alfred Hitchcock etc.

I would cite the screen writing (in which he had a major hand) as one of the weaknesses. The characters often act cartoonish and not all the narrative bases are always covered. For instance, here we see the only the first part of an escape attempt, then the viewer is left in the dark as to how the escapee managed the rest of it.

On the other hand, Higgin's direction of the actors still manages to make me care about the characters, even if their behaviour is often cartoonish, as mentioned above. The actors use facial expressions quite well in communicating emotions, overcoming some of the production difficulties in the early years of talkies.

Another reviewer stated that the opening scenes are "unnecessary" and the "storyline left hanging". Au contraire! A central theme is introduced, i.e. the unwillingness of citizens to take responsibility for their actions, leaving the innocent to suffer in their wake. We then see the main character cradling a dying person in his lap, foreshadowing a critical scene later on.

I believe therefore that director Higgin had a good understanding of cinematic techniques and dramatic elements, but it is in the execution and communication of those aspects, where he disappoints somewhat.

And wait, I didn't mention the joy of seeing Bette Davis in an early role...


1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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