The Big House

The Big House

The Big House is a 1930 American pre-Code prison drama film directed by George Hill, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and starring Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone and Robert Montgomery. The story and dialogue were written by Frances Marion, who won the Academy Award for Best Writing Achievement. As one of the first prison movies, it inspired many others of this genre.


Kent (Robert Montgomery), a drunk driver who carelessly kills a man, is sentenced to ten years for manslaughter. In an overcrowded prison designed for 1800 and actually holding 3000, he is placed in a cell with Butch (Wallace Beery) and Morgan (Chester Morris), the two leaders of the inmates. Butch is alternately menacing and friendly, while Morgan tries to help out the frightened, inexperienced youngster, but Kent rebuffs his overtures.