21 user 7 critic

So Big! (1932)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance | 30 April 1932 (USA)
Following the death of Selena's father, she's offered a job as a teacher in a small town and a new chapter of her life begins.



(novel), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A prostitute's self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Mae Clarke, Douglass Montgomery, Doris Lloyd
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A tenant farmer's son is caught in the middle of owner-tenant disputes when he falls for the plantation owner's seductive daughter.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Richard Barthelmess, Bette Davis, Dorothy Jordan
Hell's House (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

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.

Director: Howard Higgin
Stars: Bette Davis, Pat O'Brien, Junior Durkin
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Brash hoodlum Tom Connors enters Sing Sing cocksure of himself and disrespectful toward authority, but his tough but compassionate warden changes him.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, Arthur Byron
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Zachary Hicks is nominated at the Progressive party's convention even though he has little chance of winning the governorship. Kay suggests the party bosses hire Hal Blake (whom she loves) ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Warren William, Bette Davis, Guy Kibbee
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

After losing his hearing, a musician uses lip-reading to help others.

Director: John G. Adolfi
Stars: George Arliss, Bette Davis, Violet Heming
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An unpolished racketeer, whose racket is finding heirs for unclaimed fortunes, affects ethics and tea-drinking manners to win back the sweetheart who now works for his seemingly upright competitor.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Allen Jenkins
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Although Vivian Revere is seemingly the most successful of a trio of reunited schoolmates, she throws it away by descending into a life of debauchery and drugs.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Ann Dvorak
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The lifestyles of Arlene and Valkyr Bradford, half-sisters from a respected San Francisco family, diverge markedly as Arlene takes up with criminals.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Bette Davis, Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An actor of the stage finds himself pursued by a lovestruck fan while trying to patch up a tempestuous relationship with his actress lover.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland
Night Nurse (1931)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A nurse enlists the help of a petty criminal to foil a sinister plot to murder two children.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell


Complete credited cast:
Mae Madison ...
Earle Foxe ...
Dorothy Peterson ...
Mabel, a 'Fancy Woman'
Dick Winslow ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
André Cheron ...
The General (scenes deleted)
August Hemple (scenes deleted)
Maiden Aunt (scenes deleted)


Selina lived well until her father Simeon died. Her aunts sold the estate and put her in a boarding school. As an adult she wants to be a teacher in farming country. She falls in love with and marries Pervus, a Dutch farmer she has been tutoring. When he dies her hopes lie with their son Dirk, who disappoints her by giving up architecture for stock brokerage. Her new hope is Roelfe, the son of her former boardinghouse keeper and a sculptor. Dirk falls in love with Dallas O'Mara, whom Selina hopes will be the inspiration for her son's salvation. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 April 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lille mor  »

Box Office


$228,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bernhard Kaun composed original music for the trailer. See more »


Reverend Dekker: Mrs. De Jong, the Hay Market is no place for a decent woman. There's drinking, card-playing, all manner of wickedness, daughters of Jezebel on the street going among the wagons.
Selina Peake De Jong: Really!
See more »


Featured in Complicated Women (2003) See more »


Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built For Two)
Music by Harry Dacre (1892)
Played as background in the opening scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Larger than Life
7 June 2014 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

SO BIG! (Warner Brothers, 1932), directed by William A. Wellman, based on the Pulitzer Prize novel by Edna Ferber, is a story of a woman, a woman named Selina Peake. First filmed as a silent for First National Pictures (1925) starring Colleen Moore and Ben Lyon, this latest edition, which could have been Warners' contribution to their own version to a two hour epic production to RKO Radio's Edna Ferber based novel of CIMARRON (1931), this "passage through time" story, falls short to becoming nothing more than an abridged screen treatment where much of its basic characters and chaptered selections are either discarded or presented for a few brief minutes. The only character of main importance is Selina Peake. Overlooking an off-beat title that has nothing to do with the Jolly Green Giant, this is her story, a story of a woman.

Opening title: "Chicago - in the 80's, booming, prosperous, surging with life - the gateway to the Great West." The five minute prologue introduces Selina Peake (Dawn O'Day, the future Anne Shirley), a motherless child whose father, Simeon (Robert Warwick), is a compulsive gambler but dedicated to his little girl. While dining at the Palmer House, he tells Selina something to remember, "This whole thing called life is just a grand adventure." Moving forward about ten years. Selina Peake (Barbara Stanwyck), having graduated from the Select School for Girls, is best friends with classmate Julie Hemple (Mae Madison). After Peake is shot dead at Mike MacDonald's Gambling House, Mrs. Hemple (Eulalie Jensen), refuses to have her daughter associated with Selina and her father's gambling reputation. Through the kindness Julie's father, August (a character initially played by Guy Kibbee whose scenes don't appear in the final print) secures Selina a school teaching position in a Dutch community for farmers at High Prairie outside Chicago. While boarding in the home of the Poole's, Klaus (Alan Hale), Maartjie (Dorothy Peterson), and three children, their eldest son, 12-year-old Roelfe (Dick Winslow), with a quest for knowledge and talent for drawing, spends most of his time helping his father on the farm rather than acquiring an education. Selina, who finds "cabbages are beautiful," gets an education of her own when learning that fertilizer is dried blood. Roelfe, who has grown fond of Selina, becomes jealous of her marriage to Pervus DeJong (Earle Foxe). Because of his mother's death and father marrying the Widow Parrenburg (Blanche Frederici), Roelfe, who has always hated his existence, leaves home to make something of himself. The recently widowed Selina would do the same thing, seeking a better life for both her and her young son, Dirk (Dickie Moore), whom she affectionately calls "So Big." Move forward twenty years. Dirk, a young man (Hardie Albright), is torn between pursuing his mother's dream of becoming an architect or assuming the advise of the married Paula Storm (Rita LaRoy) by becoming a Wall Street businessman. During the course of the story, Dallas O'Mara (Bette Davis), an ambitious artist, not only enters the scene, but Rolfe Poole (George Brent), a famous artist, returning home from Europe to reunite himself with someone who's been an inspiration in his life.

For Barbara Stanwyck, SO BIG shows how she can be more than just one of the LADIES OF LEISURE (1930), THE MIRACLE WOMAN (1931) or NIGHT NURSE (1931), but an actress going through the aging process from young woman in her twenties to mother in her fifties, who curtsies every time she meets new people. In its present 82 minute format, SO BIG, with so much material crammed into so short of time, is one of those ambitious projects that should have been expanded by more than a half hour to allow more time for viewers to become better acquainted with both characters and story. Yet, even through its tight editing, the pacing is slow and characters undeveloped. Although it's difficult to compare this with the now lost 1925 edition, its easy to compare this with the existing 1953 remake of SO BIG starring Jane Wyman, Sterling Hayden and Nancy Olson. On a personal level, the newest of the three improves over the 1932 effort on a plot developing level leading to a satisfactory conclusion. The similarity of both versions contains that of Selina Peake repeatedly asking her son, "How big is my baby? How big is my boy?" Son replies, "SO Big!" hence the title of the book.

Aside from being relatively known to film scholars as the one where future superstars Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis appear in the same movie, but barely the same scenes, the film itself had been unavailable for viewing for many years, with the possibility of never to be seen or heard from again. It took a cable station such as Turner Classic Movies to bring this long unseen edition back from the dead, making its long awaited television premiere of clear picture quantity on November 18, 1999. In spite of few highlights of interest, and having to wait eternity for the appearance of Bette Davis and George Brent, SO BIG, with Stanwyck's ability to hold audience's attention throughout, still ranks one as worthy of both rediscovery and recognition, even if this story of a woman is not so big. (***)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: