(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), Joe Sauers (Captain Daly), Theodore Newton (Lt. Foster Kelly), William Cagney (Lt. Meeker); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Jaffe; RKO; 1933-B/W)

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) has a cynical attitude to the war. Meanwhile his girlfriend Nancy Adams (Elizabeth Allan) becomes a Red Cross nurse and frowns at Rex’s unpatriotic attitude. This gets Rex to join the Army as a pilot, hoping to prove to her that he has the guts to fight for his country and by joining will win her back. The artist goes through a personality change and makes himself into an ace pilot, performing heroically in France while letting go of his pacifist values. Rex sets a record killing German foes in a plane he uniquely equipped. While on furlough in Paris, the now more rugged 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, Rocky 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 old squadron. The wounded pilot returns to civilian life after the war and reunites with Nancy. He vows to learn how to be an artist again and not a destroyer of life.

A Bigger Splash