6.3/10
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46 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:

Howard Higgin

Writers:

Howard Higgin (story), Paul Gangelin (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Peggy Gardner
Pat O'Brien ... Matt Kelly
Junior Durkin ... Jimmy Mason (as Junior Dirkin)
Frank Coghlan Jr. ... Shorty (as Junior Coughlin)
Emma Dunn ... Emma Clark
Charley Grapewin ... Henry Clark (as Charles Grapewin)
Morgan Wallace ... Frank Gebhardt
Hooper Atchley ... Captain of the Guard
Wallis Clark Wallis Clark ... Judge Robinson (as Wallace Clark)
James A. Marcus ... Superintendant Charles Thompson (as James Marcus)
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Juvenile Court See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 »

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User Reviews

Worthwhile Material Helps Make Up for Weaknesses Elsewhere
16 December 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

The worthwhile story material in this crime drama helps to make up for its weaknesses in other areas. In approaching the subject of juvenile crime, it doesn't present anything revolutionary or ground-breaking, but it does call attention to a few issues that are worth considering, such as the ways that young persons become involved in crime, and the priorities of the justice system in dealing with young offenders. The movie is also of some interest in having Bette Davis in one of her earliest screen roles.

Junior Durkin plays a young man who in all innocence becomes involved with a charismatic bootlegger during the days of prohibition. Jimmy (Durkin's character) is arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is sent to reform school, where things get worse. Some of the plot developments are not all that logical or plausible, but the story works in calling attention to the way that the young offenders are often treated simply as annoyances to be minimized, with insufficient attention given to constructive development.

Pat O'Brien is effective as the bootlegger, and Davis, though cast as a stock character, has a few good moments as his tough-minded girlfriend. The rest of the supporting cast, which features Charley Grapewin and Junior Coghlan, is solid, and the story moves at a good pace. Overall, it's a little above average for its time and genre, and it contains some ideas worth thinking about.


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