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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 »
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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 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 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 it's 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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

14 June 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Big House See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was released in Buenos Aires, Argentina, without Spanish subtitles nor any title in Spanish. It was released only for a "distinguished English-speakers audience" from Buenos Aires. 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: If I even knew a dame called Mertle, I'd kick her teeth out.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Buried Loot (1935) See more »

Soundtracks

Goin' Home
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Antonín Dvorák
from Second Movement (Largo) in Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Op.95, B.178 (1893)
Lyrics by William Arms Fisher (1922)
Sung offscreen by an unidentified prisoner in solitary
See more »

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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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