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Murder in the Big House (1942)

A Death Row inmate vows to reveal damaging information about corrupt politicians on the day of his electric chair execution but he is found dead in his cell, prompting an investigation by a local reporter.


B. Reeves Eason


Raymond L. Schrock (original screenplay), Jerome Chodorov (based on an idea by) (as Jerry Chodorov)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Faye Emerson ... Gladys Wayne
Van Johnson ... Bert Bell
George Meeker ... 'Scoop' Conner
Frank Wilcox ... Randall
Tod Andrews ... 'Dapper Dan' Malloy (as Michael Ames)
Roland Drew ... 'Mile-Away' Gordon
Ruth Ford ... Irene Gordon
Joseph Crehan ... Jim F. Ainslee
William Gould ... Warden John Bevins
Douglas Wood ... Bill Burgen
John Maxwell ... Prison Doctor
Patrick McVey Patrick McVey ... Chief Electrician (as Pat McVeigh)
Dick Rich Dick Rich ... Death House Guard
Fred Kelsey ... Death House Keeper
William 'Bill' Phillips ... Mike - Henchman (as Bill Phillips)


When a prisoner on Death Row is "accidentally" killed just before his execution, a reporter smells something fishy. His investigation reveals that the condemned man was about to reveal some damaging information about the connection between the city's corrupt political machine and its major organized crime ring. The reporter hatches a plan, with the help of the paper's alcoholic political columnist, to get himself thrown in prison to get the information the murdered prisoner was going to reveal and expose both the crooked politicians and the gangsters they're in cahoots with. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

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VAN & FAYE - THEY'RE THAT WAY! (print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Tech Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - January 1, 1947 - all caps) See more »


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Did You Know?


Following Van Johnson's rise to become the 1945 top box-office leading man, and Faye Emerson marrying FDR's son Elliott Roosevelt in 1944, the film was re-released to theaters in late 1945 and early 1946 under the title BORN FOR TROUBLE. See more »


For a henchman already connected to three murders, Mike inexplicably runs after shooting through a window at Bert and Irene, who are standing on the other side of a large room. The criminally logical thing to do would have been to charge through the front door and make sure the unarmed reporter and housewife were dead and shoot them again if not. Instead, the unsuccessful attack confirmed Bert's suspicion that Dan was murdered and allowed Bert to solve the mystery. See more »


Referenced in The Player (1992) See more »


I'll Be Glad When You're Dead (You Rascal You)
(1931) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Spo-De-Odee
Title spoken by Ray Montgomery
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User Reviews

Van Johnson doing his best as a greenhorn journalist slipping ínto a great job
6 March 2020 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

This is quite comparable with "His Girl Friday" a few years earlier, it is the same kind of virtuoso journalism with the dialog rocketing like crossfire all through, and the story is ingenious and interesting. A new journalist happens to get the chance of a first rate scoop, when he notices irregularities in a prematurely executed convict, who had something to tell and had threatened to do it, if he was executed. He didn't have to do it, as the journalists posthumously found it out anyway by clever tactics and maoeuvres, and the road through this mess of smokescreen jungles is a sustained thriller, Van Johnson doing his first great lead, followed by many others, in spite of his rather undramatic appearance but demonstrating his stage presence entirely by his integrity and personality. It also reminds very much of Richard Brooks' "Deadline" ten years later, an even more advanced virtuoso journalism thriller, while this one has a good position between the two chief masterpieces in the genre.

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Release Date:

11 April 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Born for Trouble See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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