2 items from 2015
The 1955 prison drama Big House U.S.A. is a gritty but forgotten crime tale about a desperate group of loathsome men played by an amazing cast of manly B-movie bad guys. Lon Chaney and Charles Bronson act alongside Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, and William Talman. They’re all villains who meet cruel but deserved ends and Big House U.S.A. is one of the most mean spirited prison escape/kidnap caper thriller ever made (and I mean that as a good thing).
Big House U.S.A.’s story begins with an asthmatic rich kid getting lost while attending a “mountain ranger” summer camp (locations filmed at Colorado’s Royal Gorge Park). Shady hiker Jerry Barker (Ralph Meeker) discovers the boy and pretends to help him, but really has decided to hold him for a half million dollar ransom and locks him in a forest lookout tower. The »
- Tom Stockman
Famed producer Howard W. Koch directed a dozen or so motion pictures himself over the course of an illustrious career. None of his own directorial efforts would reach the prolific heights as items he produced (The Manchurian Candidate; The Odd Couple, etc.) and often seemed to be the types of B grade fare dumped into double feature matinees. His sophomore effort, Big House, U.S.A. promises to have all the makings of a hard boiled noir, headlined by a gnarly group of cinematic toughs and racing across events like kidnapping, murder, and prison escape to a grand shootout with breakneck speed. Unfortunately, this plays out like a wooden procedural cobbling together themes already overused by the time it was made.
Jerry Barker (Ralph Meeker) stumbles upon a helpless asthmatic boy lost in the woods of Colorado’s Royal George National Park. He’s aware the boy is the son of a very rich man, »
- Nicholas Bell
2 items from 2015
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