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Hell's House


Taken from IMDB: 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.

Hell's House is a 1932 American drama film starring Junior Durkin, featuring Bette Davis and directed by Howard Higgin. The screenplay by Paul Gangelin and B. Harrison Orkow, set during the waning days of the Prohibition in the United States era, is based on a story by Higgin.


Image:HellsHouse2.jpgWhen orphaned Jimmy Mason is taken in by his Aunt Emma and Uncle Henry, he meets their boarder Matt Kelly, who impresses the young man with his boastful swagger and alleged political connections, although in reality he's a rum-running.
The boy's life is disrupted when, as one of Kelly's hired hands, he uses to identify his boss during a police raid and is sentenced to three years of hard labor in orm school, where he befriends a sickly boy named Shorty, who eventually is sent to solitary confinement.
When Jimmy realizes his new pal is seriously ill and desperately needs medical attention, he escapes and goes to Kelly and Kelly's girl friend, Peggy Gardner, for help. Peggy contacts newspaper columnist Frank Gebhardt, who is anxious to expose the conditions at the state industrial school.
The authorities find Jimmy at Gebhardt's office, but before they can apprehend him Kelly admits his involvement in the bootlegging operation and the boy is set free. He discovers Shorty has died, victimized by a corrupt system.

Cast (in credits order)

  • Bette Davis as Peggy Gardner
  • Pat O'Brien (actor) as Matt Kelly
  • Junior Durkin as Jimmy Mason
  • Frank Coghlan Jr. as Shorty
  • Emma Dunn as Emma Clark
  • Charley Grapewin as Henry Clark
  • Morgan Wallace as Frank Gebhardt
  • Hooper Atchley as Captain Of The Guard
  • Wallis Clark as Judge Robinson
  • James A. Marcus as Superintendent Charles Thompson


The film, shot in thirteen days, originally was entitled Juvenile Court. Bette Davis was loaned to B. F. Zeidman Productions Ltd. by Universal Pictures, and following her completion of this film studio head Carl Laemmle, Jr. allowed her option to drop. She was preparing to return to New York City when George Arliss offered her the ingenue role in The Man Who Played God (1932 film).

Category:1932 films
Category:1930s drama films
Category:American drama films
Category:1930s crime films
Category:Film noir
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:Prison films
Category:Films about prohibition in the United States
B.F. Zeidman

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