Written by / 6/25/2016 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

BEL-AIR PRODUCTIONS 'BIG HOUSE U.S.A.' WITH RALPH MEEKER

Poster Image for BIG HOUSE USA
A strange, investigative, manipulative, adventurous sort of crime/prison flick begins at a rural setting with Ralph Meeker involved in the botched kidnapping of a sickly young boy at summer camp...

This gritty b-picture has been disputed by some of the more uptight viewers as a legit Film Noir since the main character doesn't have the necessary "moral ambiguity," although the otherwise vicious convicts serving at THE BIG HOUSE must realize, with a "child abductor" residing in the cell, maybe they're not so bad after all: perhaps, then, it's a kind of Film Noir in reverse...

One scene has pre-PERRY MASON lawyer and post-ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and THE RACKET firebrand William Talman suffering guilt-ridden doubts when cold-blooded kingpin Broderick Crawford tells him, once the gang has escaped from the island fortress and are "hidden" on a fishing boat within a foggy ocean, to strategically kill a sleeping friend...

Felicia Farr as the camp, not campy, nurse
And with WOLF MAN Lon Chaney Jr., whose sad droopy eyes are vulnerable from the get-go, providing the friendliest of the hardened lock-up boys, the Noir exists within the prison itself, and outside, too, so perhaps it's transferred to other places other than our buried lead, Meeker...

Nicknamed The Ice Man, who remains quiet and brooding yet is the only reason the men are willing and able to leave the cold comfort of their purgatory cell, eventually taking part in a fairly taut escape (reminiscent of the French classic GRAND ILLUSION before and THE GREAT ESCAPE, also co-starring Bronson, after), thus catapulted from a ponderous frying pan into an unknown fire: he alone knows where the loot is hidden.

Charles Bronson is the youngest con in BIG HOUSE, U.S.A.
Also includes Noir attributes like a relatively low-budget, creative camera angles and a strict, monotone narration, liken to FBI Propaganda or a Police Training Film the flavor of STREET WITH NO NAME or T-MEN...

Although the agent seeking clues means far less than his words spoken and finally turning up in the flesh halfway through while suspense boils behind the formidable, heavily-guarded walls: Where not enough time's spent to be considered a genuine prison programmer the likes of BRUTE FORCE or CANON CITY, yet much of BIG HOUSE USA has a HIGH SIERRA vibe, and second-setting...

Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, William Talman and Broderick Crawford
The mountain region bookending the penitentiary melodrama. Taking the viewer into two polar opposite locations so it never gets too claustrophobic like some prison movies can, or too outdoorsy, which would take away from the gritty crime movie element...

As for Noir, well, again, some dummies say it's just a crime flick involving prison, or a prison crime flick, but, overall, not to forget future DEATH WISH anti-hero and former CRIME WAVE heavy Charles Bronson (back then billed as Charles Buchinsky) as the youngest, most muscular con addicted to jazz on headphones, this isn't too bad an hour-forty minute life sentence no matter what the genre, or legacy: the latter which this BIG HOUSE needs to acquire.
William Talman, Charles Bronson and Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Charles Bronson file in BIG HOUSE USA
William Talman file in BIG HOUSE USA
Broderick Crawford file in BIG HOUSE USA
Lon Chaney Jr. file in BIG HOUSE USA
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Lon Chaney and William Talman in BIG HOUSE USA
Charles Bronson, William Talman, Lon Chaney and Broderick Crawford
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
Ralph Meeker in BIG HOUSE USA
"Okay, enough Benny Goodman... This Miles Davis guy might be worth listening to..."
Two Mike Hammer actors Robert Bray and Ralph Meeker in Big House USA
Robert Bray "My Gun is Quick" Mike Hammer w/ Ralph Meeker "Kiss Me Deadly" Hammer
An unbreakable prison fortress... yeah, right MOVIE SCORE: ****
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Featured Post

SWORD & DINOSAUR SEQUEL 'THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT'

Awesome Looking Matte Painting from THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT Year: 1977 Not a respected cult film like THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, wha...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

FOR TELEVISION REVIEWS

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "I'm surrounded by cattle... He wouldn't know an interesting face from a sow's belly." Jose Ferrer, Lawrence of Arabia

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

1)THE FEARMAKERS 2)JAWS 3)THE CROWDED SKY 4)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 5)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 6)ASH WEDNESDAY 7)SHARKS' TREASURE 8)CANYON PASSAGE 9)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 10)HOT CARS 11)CURSE OF THE DEMON 12)HARDCORE 13)VIOLENT SATURDAY 14)FALLEN ANGEL 15)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 16)SWEENEY TWO 17)THE DEFECTOR 18)THE ROARING TWENTIES 19)AIR PATROL 20)THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 21)THE SERGEANT 22)OTLEY 23)AL CAPONE 24)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 25)KILLER FISH 26)SEALED CARGO 27)COMPULSION 28)MY BLOOD RUNS COLD 29)EASY LIVING 30)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 31)ATLANTIC CITY 32)JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG 33)CANYON RIVER 34)MADISON AVENUE 35)THE SHARKFIGHTERS 36)DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS 37)QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS 38)SWAMP WATER 39)THUNDER ISLAND 40)THE DAY THEY ROBBED THE BANK OF ENGLAND

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)JACK NICHOLSON 5)ORSON WELLES 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)VICTOR MATURE ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)SUE LYON 3)GENE TIERNEY 4)MERRY ANDERS 5)FAYE DUNAWAY DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)JOHN CARPENTER 7)MAURY DEXTER 8)JOHN LANDIS 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

Popular This Month

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

TRIPPING INTO THE SIXTIES

WESTERN GENRE REVIEWS

All Time Popular

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE