Friday, February 20, 2009

Central Park (1932)

Two down-on-their-luck depression era people, Rick and Dot, meet and have an instant spark in Central Park. The vow to meet later that day. Dot (Joan Blondell), somehow gets mixed up in a supposed sting operation while Rick (Wallace Ford) gets kidnapped for his involvement with Dot. Add to that an escaped lion as well as an escaped lunatic zoo keeper and you have the makings of a zany drama.

Lobby Card for Central Park

This is only 60 minutes long and packs a ton of plot into that short time. For most movies I would applaud brevity and packing it in, but in this case I felt like it was a bunch of stuff thrown together that never really had time to resolve. I mean, by the end the big plot is resolved, but you end up with a quick scene to resolve the lion and then policeman making a side comment about the escaped lunatic. Why even bother, really?

Also, I really disliked the fact that Rick goes through all this trouble to rescue the girl. He finally gets to her and is like "Oh, hi, yeah, I am an idiot so I am going to go chase the bad guys. Take care of yourself." Okay, he doesn't actually SAY that, but after his sole motivation was to help the girl, when he gets to her, he doesn't stay with her to see if she is okay and protect her? What ever happened to chivalry? He isn't in law enforcement, he is an out of work guy, why on earth would he steal a car and start chasing bad guys when there were like, a zillion policemen there?

So that is what I didn't like about this one. What did I like? I loved Joan Blondell. She was a dream in this - I loved the snappy way she cracked out that dialogue. I also loved that she really seemed to be one of those women who could take care of herself. I really enjoyed watching her entire performance.

I also liked seeing Guy Kibbee as a policeman that is integral to the plot. I liked seeing him because it proved to me he was a good character actor and not the true idiot with the fluttering eyelashes like in "The Dark Horse". He was such a good actor in "The Dark Horse" that he had me convinced he must be an idiot, but apparently not.

I recommend this to any movie buff out there. It is always good to see these early films and see directors and actors try to sort out their crafts and this business of making movies. I love pre-code so that is a bonus too. For the average movie goer that is just wanting to dip their toes in early movies, I would give a huge list of other pre-codes to watch before this one. This one isn't bad, but didn't really sparkle as a great example. However, it is a good one to watch for us die-hards out there. :-)


kda0121 said...

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree and say you missed the boat on this one. Central Park is a wonderful movie and a sparkling example of pre-code. The plot moves along briskly and the several story lines have a logical convergence. The one point that I heartily agree with you on is that Joan Blondell is terrific. What a dame, as they said back then.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - I appreciate the difference of opinion. I miss the boat quite often. I am still honing my movie watching/reviewing skills so maybe I will re-watch this one in a few years and think "Gosh, what an idiot I was" :-)