An orphan is pushed to the limits of suffering when he is sent to a juvenile detention hall. Jimmy is sentenced to a term of hard labor after taking the rap for a bootlegger. Greeted at the reformatory gates by the howls of punished boys and the frail bodies of teenage laborers, he soon learns that there are even worse horrors in store for him. The severe treatment threatens the life of his friend Shorty, and Jimmy risks his own safety to save him. After making a daring escape, Jimmy pleads with Matt Kelly (Pat O'Brien) and Peggy Gardner (Bette Davis) to expose the brutality of juvenile hall and free his dying friend.Hell's House, one of the first dramas to portray the real-life horrors of prison life, is uplifted by strong performances from BetteDavis and Pat O'Brien. Davis, at the height of her talent, was loaned from Universal specifically for this film.