(director: J. Walter Ruben; screenwriters: John Monk Saunders/H.W. Hanemann/from the story The Bird of Prey by Saunders; cinematographer: Henry Cronjager; editor: George Hively; music: Max Steiner; cast: Richard Dix (Lt. Rex Thorne), Elizabeth Allan (Nancy Adams), Ralph Bellamy (Major Blake), Frank Conroy (Colonel Wentworth), Theodore Newton (Lt. Foster Kelly), William Cagney (Lt. Meeker); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Jaffe ; RKO; 1933)

A dated anti-war film about a hero flyer becoming disillusioned with war.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dated anti-war film about a hero flyer becoming disillusioned with war. Though skilfully helmed by J. Walter Ruben (“The Bad Man of Brimstone”/”Old Hutch”), the melodrama doesn’t transfer well to modern times. It’s based on the story The Bird of Prey by John Monk Saunders, and is co-written by Saunders and H.W. Hanemann. Patriotism is at a frenzy as the United States enters World War I. Sculptor Rex ‘Rocky’ Thorne (Richard Dix, served in WW I) has a cynical attitude to the war. Meanwhile his socialite girlfriend Nancy Adams (Elizabeth Allan) becomes a Red Cross nurse and frowns at Rex’s unpatriotic attitude. When he loses her, Rex joins the Army as a pilot hoping to win her back. He becomes an ace pilot, performing heroically in France. The ace pilot sets a record for killing more Germans than any other American pilot, in a plane he uniquely equipped. While on furlough in Paris, the now more militant Rex bumps into Nancy who is no longer naive about the glory of war. Nancy regrets that her Rocky is no longer the gentle soul she knew, but offers him her love. Returning to battle, Rex shoots down a German cadet and is hospitalized for a head wound. Rex is reassigned to be a training instructor, but is nearly killed as he risks his life to go on one last unofficial mission with his former squadron. The wounded pilot reunites with Nancy after the war as a civilian, and vows to learn how to be an artist again.Aerial scenes, featuring recreations of dogfights, spinouts and fiery crashes, were well choreographed. Ralph Bellamy plays Dix’s stern commanding officer.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”