The Big Shot (1937 film)

The Big Shot is a 1937 American comedy film directed by Edward Killy from a screenplay by Arthur T. Horman and Bert Granet, based on a story by Lawrence Pohle and Thomas Ahearn. The film stars Guy Kibbee, Cora Witherspoon, Dorothy Moore, and Russell Hicks. Produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, the film premiered on July 23, 1937.

The Big Shot
Directed byEdward Killy
Bob Barnes (assistant)
Produced byMaury M. Cohen
Screenplay byArthur T. Horman
Bert Granet
Story byLawrence Pohle
Thomas Ahearn
StarringGuy Kibbee
Cora Witherspoon
Dorothy Moore
Russell Hicks
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
Edited byJack Hively
Release date
  • July 23, 1937 (1937-07-23)[1]
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States


Bertram Simms is a veterinarian in a small town, who is quite content with his place in life. When he inherits a large estate and fortune from an unknown relative, he wants to continue living in the small town. His wife, Elizabeth, has other plans, wanting to see their daughter, Peggy, enter into high society in the city where Bertram's relative (an uncle) used to live. Upon their arrival in the uncle's mansion things do not seem to add up properly.

Unbeknownst to the Simms, Bertram's uncle was the leader of a criminal gang. When Bertram is persuaded by Peggy's boyfriend, Chet, to purchase the newspaper that Chet works for which had been closed down by the gang, he restarts the paper's crusade to rid the city of its criminal element. When Elizabeth is conned into throwing a massive gala by the leader of the gang, Martin Blake, she believes the party will be the host to the crème de la crème of the city's society. During the party, Bertram is mistakenly identified as the leader of the city's criminal underworld. In spite of the misidentification, Bertram is cleared of any wrongdoing, and Blake and his men are apprehended by the police.


(Cast list as per AFI database)[1]


During production the title of the film was Take the Heir.[2]


The Film Daily gave the film a positive review, stating that the "High content of laughs and able performances mark pleasing comedy". They went on to say that Killy's direction maximized the performances, while applauding the camera work of Nicholas Musuraca.[3] Harrison's Reports was less flattering, calling it "mildly amusing", and commenting that it was slow-moving and that the plot was less than believable. They did compliment Kibbee on his performance.[4] Modern Screen also felt it was "mildly diverting", and while they thought the concept was amusing, they were less than pleased with the screenplay, and felt that Cora Witherspoon's performance was poor.[5] Motion Picture Daily was slightly more positive, also calling the film amusing, but felt the plot had several interesting twists, and praised Edward Killey's direction.[6]


  1. "The Big Shot: Detail View". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  2. "The Big Shot: Notes". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 12, 2008. Retrieved February 12, 2008.
  3. "Reviews of the New Films: The Big Shot". The Film Daily. July 27, 1937. p. 10. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  4. ""The Big Shot" With Guy Kibbee". Harrison's Reports. July 31, 1937. p. 122. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  5. "The Big Shot". Modern Screen. October 1937. p. 110. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  6. "The Big Shot". Motion Picture Daily. July 20, 1937. p. 6. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
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