6.7/10
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17 user 18 critic

Big House, U.S.A. (1955)

Jerry 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.

Director:

Howard W. Koch

Writers:

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

Complete credited cast:
Broderick Crawford ... Rollo Lamar
Ralph Meeker ... Jerry Barker
Reed Hadley ... Special FBI Agent James Madden
William Talman ... William 'Machine Gun' Mason
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Alamo Smith (as Lon Chaney)
Charles Bronson ... Benny Kelly
Felicia Farr ... Emily Euridice 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
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Storyline

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 Jerry 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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are two actors who played Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (and both share a scene together): Robert Bray from My Gun Is Quick in 1953, and the most famous, that came out the same year as this movie, 1955, Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly. See more »

Goofs

When Dipsy dies in the outlet steam pipe accident (0:38:36) it's not clear how prison officials deal with his disappearance. See more »

Quotes

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

User Reviews

 
Low Budget-Ransom should have been used to produce
26 August 2007 | by DKosty123See all my reviews

This film is not the best of it's genre. It is like a low budget version of the 1950's Dragnet series. The cast is something else.

Broderirck Crawford, William Talman, a young Charles Bronson, & Lon Chaney Jr make interesting cell mates in a maximum security island prison. When the Ice Man joins them, they hatch an escape plot involving his ransom money. Like Dragnet, in this movie, the police appear to be a lot smarter than the crooks/murderers/thieves.

This could have been better but it is obvious that this is a low budget thriller. The acting talent only gets an average script to work with. While the film is based on fact, it does not quite rise to the level of a great film.

For those who like the familiar faces it is OK. It is fictionally based upon a real incident. Only the names were changed to protect the guilty, or is that innocent? Actually, the story is good enough to involve the viewer, but it does not become a must see movie.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

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