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Mutiny in the Big House (1939)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  25 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 34 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

A young man forges a check in order to help his mother, but is caught and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The prison chaplain, seeing that the new arrival is a good man who's had some bad ... See full summary »



(screenplay) (as Robert D. Andrews) , (original story)
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Title: Mutiny in the Big House (1939)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Red Manson
Pat Moriarity ...
Prison Warden
Johnny Davis
William Royle ...
Captain of Guards Ed Samson
George Cleveland ...
Convict 'Dad' Schultz
Charley Foy ...
Convict Bitsy
Russell Hopton ...
Convict Frankie
Jeffrey Sayre ...
Eddie Foster ...
Convict Del (as Edward Foster)
Jack Daley ...
Evans - Cell Block Guard
Wheeler Oakman ...
Charles King ...
Nigel De Brulier ...
Convict Mike Faleri


A young man forges a check in order to help his mother, but is caught and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The prison chaplain, seeing that the new arrival is a good man who's had some bad luck, sets out to help keep him out of trouble so he can serve his sentence and get out. However, his cellmate, a hardened con, sees the chaplain's interest in the young convict as something he can use in his planned jailbreak. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

chaplain | prison | convict | check | wound | See All (50) »


"I'LL BREAK OUT OF THIS JOINT OR BE CARRIED OUT FEET FIRST!" Violent, slashing drama of men gone mad with lust for life...caged like savage animals...thirsting for freedom! See more »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aufstand im Zuchthaus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The story, by Martin Mooney, was based on the famous Colorado State Penitentiary (Canon City) riot in 1929 in which 12 were killed and 11 injured in an attempted breakout. Father Patrick O'Neil, the prison chaplain, who was instrumental in quelling the outburst, was awarded the Carnegie Medal for extraordinary heroism. See more »

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User Reviews

Another prison melodrama
5 April 2014 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Although some of the scenes have some real poignancy to them in the end Mutiny In The Big House ends up a melodramatic mess with every prison cliché in the book thrown into the plot.

The two leads and two opposite poles of good and evil are Charles Bickford as the prison chaplain and Barton MacLane as the toughest con in the joint. Parts that both are well cast in, especially MacLane.

The main part of the story line involves young Dennis Moore sent to prison for forging a $10.00 check for his mother's medicine. Sounds like he didn't have a good lawyer if indeed it was his first offense. Over Bickford's objections Moore is assigned as cell-mate to MacLane who tries to wise him up in prison ways. Bickford of course sees something redeemable in Moore and the conflict begins.

Best scenes are with old time institutionalized con George Cleveland. When he's released he can't adjust to life on the outside. Long before James Whitmore perfected the part in Shawshank Redemption, Cleveland gives a touching performance and Bickford actually goes to bat for him to get him sent back to prison.

The climax includes a prison break and what normally happens, happens in Mutiny In The Big House.

Charles Bickford was in a much better prison film Brute Force and a lot of these same situations were handled better in that classic film.

You can't pass up a film with Bickford and MacLane in classic parts, but don't expect all that much from Mutiny In The Big House.

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