Wallace Beery received his first Oscar nomination for portraying 'Machine Gun' Butch Schmidt in The Big House.
Wallace Beery plays the murderous gunmen Butch who is suppose to be some sort of a cold blooded killer, but Beery is not for a second believable as a cold blooded killer. He plays the part at the begining basically the same way he played the champ, making me possibly see that performance may be even worse than I said.
Either way Beery is almost laughable when he tries to act tough in the early scenes of the film. It just is not believable at all, he never has single moment of menace in his entire performance. I think a problem may be he tries to be likable as well as mean and fails to be either.
Beery I will admit gets a little better later on in the film. He stops trying to do the Wallace Beery things so much, and his later attempts at being tough are a little more believable. They certainly are not amazing, but no longer laughable. His performance though on a whole really is small, since he is supporting.
Beery really is not given a lot to work with, and the part only really wants him to be a tough guy who is semi likable, which does not really work anyways. Beery never tries really to show much more to his character, other than what is written. It is a performance that improves over the course of the film, but unfortunately it never really improves into all that much.