Big House, U.S.A.


Big House, U.S.A. is a 1955 American crime film directed by Howard W. Koch and written by John C. Higgins. The film stars Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Reed Hadley, William Talman, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Charles Bronson. The film was released on March 3, 1955, by United Artists.[1][2]

Big House, U.S.A.
Big House, U.S.A. poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHoward W. Koch
Screenplay byJohn C. Higgins
Story byGeorge W. George
George F. Slavin
Produced byAubrey Schenck
StarringBroderick Crawford
Ralph Meeker
Reed Hadley
William Talman
Lon Chaney, Jr.
Charles Bronson
CinematographyGordon Avil
Edited byJohn F. Schreyer
Music byPaul Dunlap
Bel-Air Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • March 3, 1955 (1955-03-03)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States


At a summer camp near a Colorado national park, a young boy runs a short race against his fellow campers and collapses with a severe asthma attack. The boy is taken to the camp's infirmary where a nurse, Emily Evans, tries to help him with a drug given by injection. As she approaches him with a syringe in her hand, the boy who is terrified of needles, runs away into the woods, where after a while Jerry Barker finds him.

Park ranger Erickson tries to calm wealthy Robertson Lambert, the missing boy's frantic father. Barker has demanded a $200,000 ransom for the boy's safe return and warned Lambert not to tell anyone or he will kill his son. Lambert agrees to pay the ransom. Barker goes to collect the money and leaves the boy behind. The boy tries to escape from the hiding place he is in and accidentally falls to his death. When Barker returns and sees the body he coldly throws the body over a cliff and buries most of the money.

Caught by agent Madden of the FBI, Barker is convicted of extortion, but not murder because no body is found. He is sent to prison, where the warden hopes to intimidate Barker by throwing the child killer together with four of the most hardened convicts in stir, bank robber Rollo Lamar, smuggler Alamo Smith, and cold-blooded killers Mason and Kelly.

Barker becomes known as the "ice man" because of his cold, icy persona in court when he was convicted. He also gains the prisoners' trust after discovering their escape plan and not informing. But when they take him along on the breakout, it is not out of friendship but because they're after the hidden ransom money.

Madden is in hot pursuit. He has discovered that Emily, the nurse, had been in on Barker's scheme from the start. Back in the park, the fugitives turn on one another until only two are left. Mason is gunned down, and Lamar begs for his life. The money is recovered, Barker and Lamar go back to prison to face the gas chamber, and Emily is given a long sentence behind bars.



  1. ^ "Big House, U.S.A. (1955) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Big House, U.S.A." TV Guide. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2014.

External linksEdit

  • Big House, U.S.A. at IMDb