IMDb > Hell's House (1932)
Hell's House
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Hell's House (1932) More at IMDbPro »

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Hell's House -- 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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6.3/10   719 votes »
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Down 27% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Howard Higgin (story)
Paul Gangelin (adaptation) ...
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Release Date:
30 January 1932 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Fresh Off the Farm See more (41 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Bette Davis ... Peggy Gardner

Pat O'Brien ... Matt Kelly

Junior Durkin ... Jimmy Mason (as Junior Dirkin)

Frank Coghlan Jr. ... Shorty (as Junior Coughlin)

Emma Dunn ... Emma Clark

Charley Grapewin ... 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)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Mary Alden ... Lucy Mason (uncredited)
Sherwood Bailey ... Boy at Trial (uncredited)
James P. Burtis ... Detective (uncredited)

Dick Curtis ... Cop on the Beat (uncredited)
Lew Hicks ... Bailiff (uncredited)

Earle Hodgins ... Joe - Street Cop (uncredited)
Jack Richardson ... Detective (uncredited)
Everett Sullivan ... Doctor (uncredited)

Directed by
Howard Higgin 
Writing credits
Howard Higgin (story)

Paul Gangelin (adaptation and screenplay) &
B. Harrison Orkow (adaptation and screenplay)

Produced by
B.F. Zeidman .... producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Allen G. Siegler  (as Allan G. Siegler)
Film Editing by
Edward Schroeder 
Art Direction by
Edward C. Jewell  (as Edward Jewell)
Production Management
Harvey C. Leavitt .... production manager
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Juvenile Court" - USA (reissue title)
See more »
72 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Did You Know?

This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS 12 June 1940.See more »
Peggy Gardner:If you'd give the kid a chance, Kelly, he might amount to something, instead of always thinking about yourself.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in All About Bette (1994) (TV)See more »


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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Fresh Off the Farm, 28 October 2005
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Stars Pat O'Brien and Bette Davis have not near as much time as juvenile actor Junior Durkin in this one. It's another sociological drama from Warner Brothers about juvenile crime.

Junior Durkin is fresh off the farm in every sense of the word. The film opens up with Junior's Mom killed by a hit and run driver. Junior goes off to the big city to live with uncle and aunt Charley Grapewin and Emma Dunn.

They have conman boarder in Pat O'Brien and Junior falls for his spiel, hook, line, and sinker. O'Brien's a bootlegger and when his warehouse is raided, Junior takes the fall because he won't rat out his pal.

Junior goes to reform school where the conditions kind of open up his naive young eyes a crack. I think you can figure the rest of the plot.

Granted that things were more innocent back then even in Hollywood before the Code. But I have to believe that even audiences in 1932 had trouble believing this kid could be that naive. Also the beginning scene was totally unnecessary with Mom being killed. That storyline was left hanging. I was waiting for the driver to be caught and dealt with and he never was. Bad editing to say the least.

Warner Brothers got things a whole lot better with James Cagney in The Mayor of Hell the following year and then in a whole series of films with The Dead End Kids. Bette Davis is totally wasted on a thankless role.

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