1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Depression Era reform school melodrama,
This review is from: Hells House (1932) (Amazon Video)
In the Poverty Row melodrama HELL'S HOUSE, a naivé kid is sent to reform school for not infoming on a cowardly bootlegger that he admires. Conditions at the mismanaged juvenile facility are deplorable and corporal punishment for the least infraction too common. Jimmy's best friend in "stir," a sickly boy nicknamed "Shorty" (Coghlan Jr.), nearly dies from confinement in a walk-in cold storage room, so Jimmy escapes to get help for the boy. He turns to charismatic but phony Kelly, his imagined friend, but only when newspaperman Frank Gebhardt (Wallace) calls Kelly a "rat" does he finally do what's right.
Miss Davis is listed as star but hers has a supporting role. The lead is actually young Durkin. Bette's acting is amateurish (especially in comparison to her later triumphs) in the role of Peggy Gardner, but O'Brien plays a great schnook as bootlegger Matt Kelly.
Junior Durkin was Huck Finn in two circa 1930 PARAMOUNT films. Three years after "Hell's House" was completed, he died in a car accident that also killed Jackie Coogan's dad and injured Jackie. At the time, Junior was living with agent Henry Wilson, an "admirer" of male pulchritude. Wilson later discovered, mentored (perhaps bedded) and renamed Rock Hudson, Troy Donahue and Tab Hunter.
Unlike his ill-fated 'Shorty' of this story, Frank Coughlin Jr. lived long, dying at age 83. In 1941, he starred in the cliffhanger serial THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 10 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.
(5.7) Hell's House (1932) - Bette Davis/Pat O'Brien/Junior Durkin/Frank Coghlan Jr./Emma Dunn/Charley Grapewin/Morgan Wallace/Hooper Atchley