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Big House, U.S.A. (1955)

Gerry Barker finds a lost boy whose rich father is extorted into paying a ransom for his return but the boy accidentally dies and Jerry goes to prison.


Howard W. Koch


John C. Higgins, George W. George (story) (as George George) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Broderick Crawford ... Rollo Lamar
Ralph Meeker ... Gerry Barker
Reed Hadley ... Special FBI Agent James Madden
William Talman ... 'Machine Gun' Mason
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Alamo Smith (as Lon Chaney)
Charles Bronson ... Benny Kelly
Felicia Farr ... Emily Evans (as Randy Farr)
Roy Roberts ... Chief Ranger Will Erickson
Willis Bouchey ... Robertson Lambert (as Willis B. Bouchey)
Peter J. Votrian ... Danny Lambert (as Peter Votrian)
Robert Bray ... Ranger McCormick


When young Danny Lambert runs away from camp in south-central Colorado, he becomes the object of a park-wide-search by his wealthy father Robertson Lambert. He is found by Gerry Barker and told to wait at an abandoned look-out tower while he goes for help. Instead, Barker calls the father and demands $200,000 ransom. The money is delivered and Barker buries most of it. Meanwhile, the panicky boy has fallen from the tower to his death, and Barker drops the body off a cliff. The FBI, led by James Madden, capture Barker but can't convict him of kidnapping and he is given only five years for extortion and sent to Casabel Island Prison. There he is assigned a cell with Rollo Lambar, Alamo Smith, Benny Kelly and Machine Gun Mason. The FBI have now traced an affiliation between Barker and Emily Evans, a nurse at Danny's camp. The five cell-mates, led by Rollo, who plans to kill Benny and dress him in Barker's clothes to throw off the police, execute an underwater prison escape, and head ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


We're bustin' out of this tomb... And we don't care how many of you we have to kill! See more »


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Did You Know?


The role of the narrator switches from Chief Ranger Erickson to Special Agent Madden when the nature of the case switches from being under one jurisdiction to the other. See more »


When they're fishing, the fish Rollo has on his line when he pulls it out of the water is obviously already dead. See more »


Rollo Lamar: Any of you geniuses know what "apparently" means?
Alamo Smith: "Apparently?"
Rollo Lamar: Yeah.
Benny Kelly: Yeah, it means that something that ain't, looks like it is.
See more »


Referenced in Fade to Black (1980) See more »

User Reviews

Typical '50's prison picture
3 September 2004 | by thirdcavca-2See all my reviews

As it happens I was in this picture as an extra in the early spring of 1955. I was going to high school as a sophomore at Holy Cross Abbey in Cannon City Colo. at the time when a call came in for extras for a summer camp scene.

This movie was filmed in and around the Cannon City area,Westcliffe and Royal Gorge. Broderick Crawford had a popular TV series at the time called Highway Patrol.

This was one of Charles Bronson's earliest movies, he had just done House of Wax a year or two before.

Reed Hadley also had a popular detective TV series at the time.

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Release Date:

18 November 1955 (Belgium) See more »

Also Known As:

Big House, U.S.A. See more »

Filming Locations:

Malibu, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

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