7.1/10
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31 user 25 critic

The Big House (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 14 June 1930 (USA)
A convict falls in love with his new cellmate's sister, only to become embroiled in a planned break-out which is certain to have lethal consequences.

Directors:

George W. Hill (as George Hill), Ward Wing (uncredited)

Writers:

Frances Marion (story and dialogue), Joseph Farnham (additional dialogue) (as Joe Farnham) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chester Morris ... John Morgan
Wallace Beery ... Machine Gun 'Butch' Schmidt
Lewis Stone ... Warden James Adams
Robert Montgomery ... Kent Marlowe
Leila Hyams ... Anne Marlowe
George F. Marion ... Pop
J.C. Nugent ... Mr. Marlowe
Karl Dane ... Olsen
DeWitt Jennings ... Wallace
Matthew Betz ... Gopher (as Mathew Betz)
Claire McDowell ... Mrs. Marlowe
Robert Emmett O'Connor ... Donlin (as Robert Emmet O'Connor)
Tom Kennedy ... Uncle Jed (scenes deleted)
Tom Wilson ... Sandy
Eddie Foyer Eddie Foyer ... Dopey
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Storyline

After a manslaughter conviction from drunk driving, nice but foolish Kent is sent to a prison over-crowded and unable to properly deal with its inmates. There he meets veteran criminals like Morgan and his hardened pal Butch. And the system punishes them all, turning them against each other and bringing out the worst. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Timely! Tremendous! Thrilling! Drama of Love and a Jail-Break! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film's television premiere took place in Philadelphia Wednesday 24 April 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by New Haven CT 1 May 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), by Altoona PA 8 May 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), by Chicago 18 May 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), by Los Angeles 16 June 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), by Hartford CT 3 July 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), by Norfolk VA 8 August 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), by Seattle 29 September 1957 on KING (Channel 5), by Portland OR 15 October 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), by San Francisco 22 February 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), by Minneapolis 22 July 1958 on WTCN (Channel 11), and, finally, by New York City 25 August 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »

Goofs

When Anne comes to visit Kent at the prison, and he walks up and says 'Hi sis,' the shadow of the microphone falls across her. See more »

Quotes

'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt: [to Morgan] Say, listen. Don't let the guys know you've gone straight. They used to have a lot of respect for you.
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Connections

Alternate-language version of Menschen hinter Gittern (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Ring the Bells of Heaven
(1866) (uncredited)
Music by George Frederick Root
Words by William O. Cushing
Sung by the Prisoners in Chapel
See more »

User Reviews

 
Crashing Out
5 October 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Even after 77 years, The Big House is still the grand daddy of all prison films. Though films like Shawshank Redemption and a personal favorite of mine, Brubaker, with no Code restrictions can be a lot more graphic, still The Big House will shock as well as entertain.

Wallace Beery got a Best Actor nomination for being hardened killer Butch Schmidt who's a lifer in the state penitentiary. He and cell mate Chester Morris have a new man in their little abode in the person of a young Robert Montgomery.

Montgomery's only a kid, but he's done a man size crime of manslaughter in a vehicular homicide where he was no doubt good and sloshed on prohibition rotgut. Montgomery is a weakling in a place where that's not a good thing.

All the clichés about prison films really do start here, culminating in the final crash-out where a whole lot of people get themselves killed. It's a scene well staged, very similar to the breakout in Brute Force.

As the story progresses you'll see plot elements from Brute Force and from Warner Brothers Each Dawn I Die. The cast does a marvelous job and that also includes Lewis Stone as a Judge Hardy like warden.

If you like prison films, this one's the grand daddy of them all.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

14 June 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big House See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$414,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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