|Index||8 reviews in total|
17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Was Central Park ever safe at night?, 28 January 2007
Author: ChorusGirl from United States
Set entirely in Central Park (albiet a studio bound, rear projection
version of it), this is one of Warner's most fascinating 60-minute
lightning rounds, with Joan Blondell as the out of work Roxy usherette
who gets caught up with gangsters (in her first scene she steals a hot
dog from a vendor, out of starvation). On hand are Wallace Ford as the
"Forgotten Man" who falls for her, Guy Kibbee as a Central Park cop,
and John Wray as a sociopath on the loose.
If that isn't enough plot for an hour, there's a lion that escapes from the Central Park Zoo, and I don't know if it's special effects or just brilliant editing, but I'd swear that the extras and stunt men where REALLY put in harm's way with this animal, especially in the horrifying scene in the cage.
I have to address another reviewer's question about the "appeal of Joan Blondell." I totally disagree. Blondell's pre-code output is worthy of its own book. She was a master of rapid fire dialogue and wisecracks, with excellent comic timing. She instilled energy into films that are now unimaginable without her (GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, NIGHT NURSE, BIG CITY BLUES, DAMES, etc), and if nothing else was the best co-star James Cagney ever had (BLONDE CRAZY, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, HE WAS HER MAN). I'd vote that her performances survive intact, and haven't dated a bit in 75 years (which I cant say for Garbo, Shearer, Crawford and some other shining lights of the era).
10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Charming and not at all dated romance, 28 February 2003
Author: David (Handlinghandel) from NY, NY
This movie is beautifully photographed. George Cukor did well by Central
Park a couple decades later. In between (and after) -- has the beauty been
In this Central Park, there are actual sheep in Sheep Meadow!
There are also the always marvelous Joan Blondell, Wallace Ford, a lion, gangsters, a touching cop losing his eyesight, and as many plots as there are in "Grand Hotel" (though this movie seems less dated than that more famous one.)
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Take that, Vicki Baum!, 1 October 2007
Author: Fred_Rap from Los Angeles, CA
A lightning-paced Grand Hotel knockoff that crams more incidents into its brief running time than most films twice as long. It's a marvel of fat-free story telling, hokey, predictable and rarely less than delightful. Manhattan's famous landmark is re-imagined as an urban Sherwood Forest filled with merry paupers, evil bandits, benevolent Irish cops, homicidal madmen, and even a herd of braying sheep. Destitute Wallace Ford and Joan Blondell meet in the park, trading flirtatious smiles and glib wisecracks in the face of hunger and homelessness. The action quickly shifts into overdrive when Joan is suckered into a gangster's robbery scam. Meanwhile, a vengeance-seeking psycho prowls the park and an abused lion escapes from the zoo. John Adolphi, director of George Arliss' screen vehicles, seems to bask in his freedom from stodgy period pieces, taking lurid pleasure in protracted fistfights, gory lion maulings, and Blondell's plunging décolletage. His lowbrow enthusiasm is infectious. With Guy Kibbee in a rare non-comic turn as a park cop dreading retirement, John Wray as the giggly, eye-rolling maniac.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Late Casino of Central Park, 24 August 2011
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
Central Park is a short not quite an hour B film that starred Joan
Blondell and Wallace Ford who meet in the famous park over a pair of
purloined hamburgers. They are the leads in a series of interconnected
incidents involving a robbery of the famous Central Park Casino, an
escaped lion from the zoo, Guy Kibbee as a beloved patrolman who is
slowly losing his vision and trying to stick it out until retirement
and an escaped mental patient who happens to be the former zoo keeper.
Of course the zoo and the Sheep Meadow are there, but today's audiences unless they're read in the history of the times wouldn't know about the Central Park Casino or that there was gambling and a nightclub on the park grounds. And in 1932 when the film came out, the Central Park Casino was the favored hangout of Mayor James J. Walker. An added dimension that theatergoers of the day had that people watching on TCM can't appreciate.
The film is structured kind of like Boogie Nights or Crash with the separate elements all coming together at the end. For B film, Warner Brothers put a lot of care into this one.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Lion in Spring, 25 January 2009
Author: wes-connors from Earth
In New York's Central Park, jobless Joan Blondell (as Dot) flirts with
unemployed Wallace Ford (as Rick) as they ogle unaffordable hot dogs.
When a wayward baseball strikes the vendor's window, Ms. Blondell
swipes two juicy hot dogs, which she shares with Mr. Ford. The two are
mutually attracted, and arrange a more proper date. Ford is acquainted
with the park cop Guy Kibbee (as Charlie). Mr. Kibbee has one week of
work until he is eligible for pensioned retirement. However, Kibbee is
no longer a competent policeman - his vision is failing...
Blondell is duped, by gangsters, into working undercover in a "Most Beautiful Girl" contest. Ford smells trouble, and gets into danger of his own. Meanwhile, lunatic John Wray (as Smiley) escapes from his insane asylum. A former keeper at the "Central Park Zoo", Mr. Wray causes trouble for everyone by causing the zoo's killer lion ("Nebo") to escape from his cage, and threaten the environs. Henry B. Walthall (as Eby) is a Kibbee confidante. Harold Huber (as Nick) is the gang leader. Director John G. Adolfi and his cast make this creaky early talkie roar with all their might.
****** Central Park (1932) John G. Adolfi ~ Joan Blondell, Wallace Ford, Guy Kibbee
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Wallace Ford Proves, Once Again, That He Was an Under Rated Leading Man!!, 25 October 2012
Author: kidboots from Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joan Blondell was always surprised to see James Cagney, her friend from
Broadway days, become such a movie success but Joan could well have
become a big star also if she had made fame her main motivation. As it
was she was always happy and willing to do any movie Warners gave her,
even starting one before she had finished the last, she just wasn't
that choosy!! The public soon fell in love with her sassy character and
were rewarded by seeing her in so many movies!!
Even though theatre managers were often encouraged to put on phoney stunts and demonstrations to coincide with new movie releases they wanted to publicize, this movie had so much going for it that the author Ward Morehouse created parties and parades especially for it. Producers of some recent agonizingly boring epics should turn to films like "Central Park" for inspiration - but they probably won't!! There is more action and plot in just under 58 minutes - gangsters, romance, wild animals, all set in Central Park - they even once had a Casino there!!!
Dot (Blondell) is an out of work actress and Rick (Wallace Ford) a rodeo star from Arizona who do a little flirting by a hot dog stand in Central Park. They are both from the vast army of the unemployed but their luck is soon to change. Dot is approached by two men claiming to be policemen, they want her for some mysterious undercover work because of her good looks and Rick, because he was helpful to soon to be retired policeman Charley Cabot (Guy Kibbee) is given the job of washing the police motorcycles (for the princely sum of $2!!). Charley has a secret - he is going blind but because he is desperate to retire with a pension the only person who knows is Eby (Henry B. Walthall, playing with his usual dignity, in a minor role). So when he comes across Robert Smiley, an ex-lion keeper who has just escaped from an insane asylum, all he sees is a blur and he mistakes him for one of the other keepers. Smiley has an insane hatred of people who are cruel to animals and he has come back to see Luke (the usually docile Charles Sellon), a keeper who hates wild animals and takes great delight in teasing them, get his just desserts!!
Meanwhile Dot has been employed as a beauty contest winner who is to help the "police" "look after" the money from a society dinner where guests have paid $100 a ticket - the money is to go towards helping the unemployed. Rick get suspicious when he overhears a conversation and is taken to the gangsters apartment where his skills as a rodeo performer come in handy.
All the action takes place during a single day (and night) and climaxes with the escape of a lion who terrorizes the patrons of the Casino. Blondell does her usual sterling job and Wallace Ford proves, once again, he was a really under rated leading man, excelling at the "working class hero" parts!!
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Rather weird and disjoint., 9 September 2011
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
Generally, Warner Brothers made terrific films--lots of fun and with
some wonderful actors. However, this B-movie just never seemed to gel
for me--mostly because the script was so bizarre and uneven. Even with
Joan Blondell, Wallace Ford and Guy Kibbee trying their best, it's
still a sub-par film.
The film is unusual for a Depression-era movie in that it actually acknowledges that their is a depression!! Too often, films throughout the 1930s were about rich society folks--yet most people in the country were barely scraping by. Here, the film finds Ford and Blondell homeless and without jobs. They manage to scrape by here and there but have to sleep in the park because they just haven't got enough money even to eat. Later, their need for a job manages to merge with another plot--this one involving a cop with bad eyesight (Kibbee) and an escaped maniac. Both plots (particularly the Kibbee one) are just weird and tough to connect with. How they later intersect is also odd. Now I like novel ideas--but they need to be realistic or at least enjoyable. However, I just kept waiting and waiting for some payoff but by the end of the film I just came to realize that this was a bit of a bust. Not terrible--but also not particularly good. Considering that Blondell was a very new starring actress, this sort of throwaway role isn't all that surprising. Most actors did a few turkeys like this on their role to stardom.
8 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
A lion in a taxi cab?, 14 March 2002
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
All the action in "Central Park" occurs during a single day and night,
in Manhattan's Central Park and in the area immediately surrounding it.
This film uses the "book-ends" structure which was employed in so many
Warner Brothers films of the early 1930s. In the opening shot of the
film, we see a vaudeville-comedy "tramp" yawning as he wakes up in
Central Park to begin a new day. In the last shot of the film, we see
the same tramp yawning again, in the same place, as he prepares to bed
down for the night in Central Park. Except for these two "book-ends",
the tramp never appears anywhere in the film.
Rick and Dot are two young people desperately trying to get through the Depression, one day at a time. Rick is so desperate for work, he agrees to wash several dozen policemen's motorcycles for an insultingly small amount of pay. Dot gets a job as a fashion model, but she doesn't know that the "fashion show" is a front for a criminal scam.
The film features the usual cast of Warners supporting players, each with their own subplot. Guy Kibbee is excellent as a veteran cop on the beat. Tonight is his very last tour of duty: as he straps on his holster for the very last time, he remarks that he's managed to get through all his years as a policeman without ever once firing his gun ... so you just KNOW something's going to happen tonight. John Wray, a character actor who played Lon Chaney-ish roles in the 1930s (without Chaney's subtlety), hams it up here as an insane zoo-keeper named Smiley, who escapes from the loony bin and returns to his job at the Central Park Zoo to release the lions and get revenge on the head zoo-keeper who got Smiley sacked from his zoo job. (This is almost a parody of the role Chaney played in "He Who Gets Slapped".) One of Smiley's lions ends up in a taxi cab, on the way to Joan Blondell's fashion show. Yes, it's THAT sort of movie.
Wallace Ford, always an under-rated actor, gives the best performance in this film. Blondell gives one of her usual bad performances. Most of Joan Blondell's early films feature a scene in which a bunch of men stand about, ogling Blondell and remarking on how gorgeous she is: there's a scene like that here, but I just don't get it. Blondell looked very cheap and common, and her appeal has always eluded me.
"Cental Park" can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama. It starts out funny, moves into serious territory with its Depression subject matter, dips into tragedy for the Guy Kibbee scenes, then just gets completely weird with its homicidal maniac zoo-keeper and taxi-taking lion. Fortunately, each of the individual plot elements is done well, with the usual Warner Brothers proficiency. But "Central Park" is like a mismatched jigsaw puzzle of good pieces from several unrelated films. One of the odder examples of a 1930s second-feature: enjoyable but weird. I'll rate it 7 out of 10.
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