Mutiny in the Big House (1939)

July 15, 2011

A Monogram release directed by veteran William Nigh features Charles Bickford in the lead role as Father Joe a prison chaplain who helped breakup a prison break/riot where 7 guards and 5 prisoners were killed. It is based on true events of Father Patrick O’Neil who received the Carnegie medal of valor during the sad events in Canon City, Colorado in 1929. Co-starring as the prison leader was Barton MacLane as Red Manson, Pat Moriarity as the warden, and Dennis Moore as Johnny Davis. The story gets off on a bad foot when it is revealed that Johnny is given 1 to 14 years for writing a $10 bad check to get medicine for his mother. It quickly turns into even more soap opera with Father Joe who is apparently the only friend that the prisoners have. The low budget prevented the riot which could have been a good climax into something less than. MacLane and Bickford are fine in their roles but this film has little else to offer in the way of entertainment. This film is available for free viewing on the Internet Archive   http://www.archive.org/details/Mutiny_in_the_Big_House_1939

as well as Alpha Video (ALP 4436) at a low cost. (**)

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