Since the "Maltese Falcon" every Humphrey Bogart picture has been a bit of an anticlimax, in spite of the fact that they've all been better-than-average gangster movies. "The Big Shot" is no exception to this rule. Getting off to a bad start with rather a trite flash-back, it soon picks up speed in telling its non-too-original story of a gangster who tries to go straight but can't.
Humphrey Bogart is his usual hard-as-nails self, slapping people around, making strange with his lips, driving automobiles without any consideration for gas or rubber, and in the end dying the death that the Hays Office says all murderers, regardless of race or creed, must die. In spite of the fact that you can tell more or less what's going to happen after the first few minutes, you'll probably be sitting on the edge of your seat till it does happen. No matter how many times you've seen them before, jail breaks and murders and holdups and gun-flaming cops-and-robbers chases are always good for a couple of chewed-off finger nails.
On the other hand, you needn't wear any gloves for "Flight Lieutenant," Warner Brothers' father-and-son contribution to the war effort. All you have to know about this is that George O'Brien is a former war ace who gets his license taken away from him for getting drunk and crashing a plane. From then on he's washed up, finished, through; but his son, Glenn Ford, still has faith in him and this faith is rewarded when Father O'Brien pulls a supreme sacrifice and proves to the world that he really had the old pizzazz all the time. Of course, to the audience, this fact was obvious from the beginning. And the picture is so dully told and acted that it's not worth waiting around just to have your faith in Mr. O'Brien confirmed.