The Big Guy
Universal Pictures 

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Written by Lester Cole
Story by Wallace Sullivan and Richard K. Polimer
A Burt Kelly Production

Released November 29, 1939

     An action-packed and suspenseful melodrama of a youth who innocently becomes enmeshed in a prison break and subsequent murder.  Convicted as an accomplice, and sentenced to die, the boy proclaims his innocence while the prison warden struggles with his conscience to disclose facts that would clear the kid.

        Secretly holding loot of the dead gangsters with idea of future security for his wife and self, the warden finally signs a confession -- but at the hour the youth and a trusty makes a break for freedom.  The warden eventually dies in a pitched battle with the berserk trusty.

      The picture unwinds at a fast clip neatly building dramatic punch.  McLaglen and Cooper are tops, Peggy Moran provides romantic interest for Cooper. 

Anne Gwynne's 2nd motion picture.



Victor McLaglen

Jackie Cooper

Edward Brophy

Peggy Moran

Russell Hicks

Jonathan Hale

Anne Gwynne


Lester Cole- Writer

Wallace Sullivan & Richard K. Polimer- Story

Arthur Lubin- Director 

Burt Kelly- Producer

Woody Bredell- Cinematographer

Philip Cahn- Editor

Full Storyline

Bill Whitlock has been temporarily promoted from guard to warden at the state penitentiary when he is cruelly informed by the prison board that he is to be demoted. Meanwhile, mechanic Jimmy Hutchins becomes unwittingly involved in a jailbreak when Jack Lang, a confederate of convicts Chuck Burkhart and Buzz Miller, instructs the unsuspecting Jimmy to meet him in the country so that he can show the plans to Jimmy's new motor to some friends. Inside the prison, Burkhart and Miller take Bill hostage and then force Jimmy to drive the getaway car.

During the chase, a motorcycle officer is killed, and the escape car runs off the road. Bill shoots the fleeing Burkhart and confiscates the bag of stolen money he finds in the dead man's possession. Embittered by his demotion, Bill decides to keep the booty, while Jimmy is charged with murder. The boy protests his innocence, claiming as his alibi the plans that he was to show Lang, but at the trial, Lang denies his involvement with Jimmy and the boy is sentenced to hang. After the boy's sentencing, Bill discovers Jimmy's plans in the bag with the stolen money, thus thrusting him into a moral dilemma when Jimmy's appeal is denied.

After Lang visits Jimmy and tells him about Burkhart's loot, Jimmy accuses Bill of stealing the money and joins in a prison break with Dippy, the prison trustee. As Dippy and Jimmy speed into a police trap, Bill comes to their aid, only to be shot by Dippy. Although he dies before he can testify on Jimmy's behalf, the warden's signed affidavit clears the boy of all charges.


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