IMDb > Hell's House (1932)

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.

Overview

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Director:
Writers:
Howard Higgin (story)
Paul Gangelin (adaptation) ...
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Release Date:
30 January 1932 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
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:
Is it OK, or a KO ? See more (13 total) »

Cast

  (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)
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)
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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


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Additional Details

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

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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in All About Bette (1994) (TV)See more »

FAQ

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Is it OK, or a KO ?, 11 December 2011
Author: Jaco Wium (jacowium) from Pretoria, South Africa

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...

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