6.3/10
789
43 user 14 critic

Hell's House (1932)

Approved | | Drama | 30 January 1932 (USA)
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:

Writers:

(story), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Jailbird is hired to lead a dimwitted candidate's campaign for governor.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Warren William, Bette Davis, Guy Kibbee
Seed (1931)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Bart is a clerk for a publishing company. He has written a novel. His wife Peggy and he have five children. Bart's former girlfriend, Mildred, is manager of the company's Paris office. She ... See full summary »

Director: John M. Stahl
Stars: John Boles, Genevieve Tobin, Lois Wilson
Drama
    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
The Menace (1932)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Ronald Quayle escapes from prison. He was sent there for murdering his father, based on the testimony of his stepmother, Caroline. An explosion disfigures him, but plastic surgery gives him... See full summary »

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: H.B. Warner, Walter Byron, Bette Davis
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

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

Director: John G. Adolfi
Stars: George Arliss, Bette Davis, Violet Heming
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
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Marianne falls in love with a con artist who has a hidden agenda.

Director: Hobart Henley
Stars: Conrad Nagel, Sidney Fox, Bette Davis
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A socialite gets a divorce but can't keep out of her ex-husband's life.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Ruth Chatterton, George Brent, Bette Davis
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
So Big! (1932)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Dickie Moore
Ex-Lady (1933)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Although free spirit Helen Bauer does not believe in marriage, she consents to marry Don, but his infidelities cause her to also take on a lover.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bette Davis, Gene Raymond, Frank McHugh
Way Back Home (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Phillips Lord, Effie Palmer, Frank Albertson
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Peggy Gardner
... Matt Kelly
... Jimmy Mason (as Junior Dirkin)
... Shorty (as Junior Coughlin)
... Emma Clark
... Henry Clark (as Charles Grapewin)
... Frank Gebhardt
... Captain of the Guard
Wallis Clark ... Judge Robinson (as Wallace Clark)
... Superintendant Charles Thompson (as James Marcus)
Edit

Storyline

Jimmy Mason idolizes bootlegger Matt Kelly who is dating Peggy. Unwilling to squeal on his idol, Jimmy winds up in a cruel reformatory where a new- found friend is dying from abuse. Jimmy escapes to report the abuse. Matt and Peggy help him once he has escaped. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 January 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Juvenile Court  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS 12 June 1940. See more »

Quotes

Peggy Gardner: If you'd give the kid a chance, Kelly, he might amount to something, instead of always thinking about yourself.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in All About Bette (1994) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Vintage reform school drama
7 August 2001 | by See all my reviews

"Hell's House" (Capital Films, 1932), directed by Howard Higgins, is a low-budget drama that might have been a much better reform school drama had it been produced at the Warner Brothers studio, in spite of pre-Warner Brothers contract players of Pat O'Brien and Bette Davis in supporting roles that give this the Warner Brothers feel. The central character to the story happens to be played by Junior Durkin (famous for his role as Huck Finn in Paramount's Mark Twain classics, "Tom Sawyer" (1930) and "Huckleberry Finn" (1931), both starring Jackie Coogan). But for today's viewers who may possibly find this movie in a local video store, Bette Davis is the one who brings added interest in a somewhat small role.

The story opens at a farm where Jimmy Mason (Junior Durkin) helps his widowed mother (Mary Alden) with the chores. The pleasant day turns out tragically when Mrs. Mason is suddenly struck and killed by a passing automobile. Left alone, Jimmy decides to come to the city and live with his Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin) and Aunt Emma (Emma Dunn), landlords of an apartment building. There he meets one of their tenants, Matt Kelly (Pat O'Brien), who befriends the boy, and later introduces him to his girlfriend, Peggy (Bette Davis), a tough babe with a good heart, who takes an instant liking to this young teen. Jimmy, however, is quite naive and doesn't realize that Kelly is a smooth-talking, small-town operator and racketeer. Jimmy is soon offered a job by Kelly answering the telephone at his bootlegging headquarters. After showing him what to do and say, Kelly leaves Jimmy alone to tend to business. As Kelly slowly drives away, he looks at his rear view mirror to find the police barging in the place and arresting Jimmy. While in juvenile court, Jimmy believes that Kelly will come and speak on his behalf, and be released (no such luck). He refuses to identify Kelly as the man who hired him to the judge (Wallis Clark). Because of this, Jimmy is sentenced to three years in a state reformatory. While there, Jimmy becomes the victim of a cruelly-operated institution.

The supporting cast includes Junior Coughlan as Shorty, a reform school boy with a heart ailment who befriends Jimmy; Morgan Wallace as Frank Gebhardt, a crusading publisher wanting to improve reform school conditions; and James Marcus as the superintendent. While the opening credits presented on TV or video today give Davis and O'Brien star billing over Junior Durkin, the current opening credits are actually taken from reissue prints that capitalized on the stardom of both Davis and O'Brien, and is not the original opening credits as presented to 1932 audiences, hence the misspelling of Durkin's surname spelled Dirkin.

Although a reform school drama like this had been produced numerous times by other studios throughout the 1930s, "Hell's House," is really nothing new, in fact, a trifle slow at 70 minutes, handicapped by low-budget production values. Acting is good and reform school situations are grimly handled. However it's still interesting to see mainly because of the supporting actors of O'Brien and Davis, both of whom would become major film stars in later years, especially at Warner Brothers. (**1/2)


20 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 43 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial