IMDb > Big House, U.S.A. (1955)

Big House, U.S.A. (1955) More at IMDbPro »

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John C. Higgins (written by)
George W. George (story) ...
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Release Date:
18 November 1955 (Belgium) See more »
5 KILLER CONVICTS BREAK OUT! (original print ad - all caps) See more »
When young Danny Lambert runs away from camp in south-central Colorado, he becomes the object of a park-wide-search... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Gritty and awful--and I liked that about this film! See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Directed by
Howard W. Koch 
Writing credits
John C. Higgins (written by)

George W. George (story) (as George George) and
George F. Slavin (story) (as George Slavin)

Produced by
Aubrey Schenck .... producer
Original Music by
Paul Dunlap 
Cinematography by
Gordon Avil (photography)
Film Editing by
John F. Schreyer 
Production Design by
Charles D. Hall 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hal Klein .... assistant director
Art Department
Tom Coleman .... property master
Sound Department
John A. Bushelman .... sound editor
Frank Webster .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Robert Comer .... lighting technician (as Robert S. Comer)
William Margulies .... operative cameraman
Casting Department
John G. Stephens .... casting supervisor
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Tommy Thompson .... wardrobe
Music Department
Lester Morris .... music editor
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial Effects

Additional Details

Also Known As:
83 min (Turner library print)
Aspect Ratio:
1.75 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Sweden:15 | USA:Approved (Certificate #17328) | West Germany:18 (nf)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Crew or equipment visible: Shadow of equipment in foreground when the 3 escapees are talking about fishing with the park ranger on horseback.See more »
Rollo Lamar:I'm gonna kidnap a kidnapper for the money he kidnapped for.See more »


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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
Gritty and awful--and I liked that about this film!, 25 August 2007
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

The film begins with a little boy getting lost while at summer camp. Ralph Meeker finds the boy and pretends to be helping him, but actually is intent on kidnapping him and holding him for a huge ransom. Unfortunately, the kid dies while in his care but Meeker is an animal and STILL proceeds to get the money and then tries to skip town. However, the cold and calculating killer is caught and sent to prison--but unfortunately, all they can prove is that he extorted the money--not that he had anything to do with the boy's disappearance.

This is sort of like a prison movie merged with a Film Noir flick. That's because much of the beginning and ending of the film is set outside prison and its style throughout was rather Noir inspired--with a format much like an episode of DRAGNET (the bloodier 1950s version, not the late 60s incarnation). However, it did lack some of the great Noir camera-work and lighting as well as the cool Noir lingo--but it still succeeded in telling a great story. What was definitely Noir was the unrelentingly awful and brutal nature of the film--a plus for Noir fans. Now I hate violent and bloody films, but this one was a bit more restrained but still very shocking for a 1950s audience--featuring some of the most brutal plot elements of the decade (tossing a child's body off a cliff, burning a corpse with a blowtorch to confuse in the identification of another corpse and the scene with the escaped prisoner who is scalded to death). Because of all this, the film was above all else, realistic and shocking--much of it due to the excellent script, straight-forward acting and a few excellent and unexpected plot twists.

By the way, this is one of the earliest films in which Charles Bronson appears with this name (previously, he'd been billed as "Charlie Buchinsky"). When he takes his shirt off in the film, take a look at how muscle-bound he was--I sure would have hated to have tangled with him!! In his prime, he might have been the most buff actor in Hollywood history who DIDN'T suck down steroids (and, consequently, had minuscule testicles from this drug).

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