Murder in the Big House (1942)

Approved   |    |  Action, Adventure, Crime


Murder in the Big House (1942) Poster

When a prisoner on Death Row is "accidentally" killed just before his execution, a reporter smells something fishy. His investigation reveals that the condemned man was about to reveal some... See full summary »

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26 March 2008 | eddie-83
7
| Van a man with a plan
I watched this smart little B film on TCM in Australia and was agreeably impressed. I was reminded somewhat of "His Girl Friday" with the newspaper setting, the theme of corruption and the hard-boiled dialogue though needless to say "Murder in the Big House" is not in the same league as the Howard Hawks classic. Incidentally, the version I watched was called "Born for Trouble", a title which makes no sense at all.

If you ignore the occasional plot hole in a movie lasting only an hour this is good entertainment with some very black humour concerning the electric chair. A street newspaper seller calls out "Mile-Away Gordon gets the hot squat tonight" and a potential execution witness declares "I like to see 'em sizzle" I've always found Van Johnson a little insipid for serious roles but perhaps that's just a personal prejudice; Faye Emerson, who I was unaware of, is a Rosalind Russell type ("His Girl Friday" again!) and the rest of the cast of mainly older unknowns perform competently.

"Murder in the Big House" was made and set in the era when hats for men were compulsory wear; a room full of reporters all sport felt hats and Van's fedora remains firmly in place after a fast and furious fist fight with much wrestling on the floor! I couldn't find a mention of this film in any of my reference books but I assure you they cover plenty that are worse. Have a look if you get a chance, you won't be sorry.

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