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Spectacular flying scenes compensate for weak romantic triangle...
William Wellman knew his stuff when it came to airplanes and proof of this are the early scenes in CENTRAL AIRPORT when Richard Barthelmess witnesses a stunt flier going through some dangerous routines alongside an onrushing train. We later find out that the flier is Richard's brother (played by Tom Brown).
But the numerous flying scenes are the only compensation in this pre-code aviation drama about two brothers in love with the same woman (Sally Eilers), herself a stunt pilot for a circus. And there's a "meet cute" scene when she and Bartholomess first meet and she's stuck in her parachute atop a tree limb. Unfortunately, their story goes downhill from this point with some racy pre-code scenes thrown in during their bumpy romance.
However, the story of two brothers in love with the same girl is tired stuff, used so often by Warner Brothers that it became a big cliché in films like "Wings of the Navy" ('39) where Navy pilots George Brent and John Payne both love Olivia de Havilland.
The book "Warner Brothers Presents" sums up CENTRAL AIRPORT in one sentence: "Airplane stuff well done, despite deficiencies in every other department."
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