Commercial pilot Jim Blair is blackballed after his plane crashes in a thunderstorm. Depressed, he begins working as a bank teller until he meets beautiful Jill Collins, a barnstorming parachutist working with her daredevil pilot brother. Jim's immediately attracted, and when her brother's killed in a freak crash, he reveals his past to her and volunteers to replace her dead sibling in their air carnival act. As they tour throughout the Southwest, their affection turns physically intimate when they're on the road as they characteristically sleep in adjoining hotel rooms. Jill wants marriage but is resisted by Jim, who believes that his risky lifestyle precludes the luxury of a wife and family. When Jim's brother Bud joins them, he too is immediately attracted to Jill but respects his brother's relationship, However, after another freak accident puts Jim in the hospital for a prolonged convalescence, Jim returns to find them married and in bed together. Angry and bitter, he becomes a ... Written by
When Jim is coming in to land after stunting over the Havana airport, we get a good look at the writing and symbols on the right-hand side of his plane. When he actually touches down, they are in different colors and positions, and a diagonal line of bullet holes has appeared. See more »
Although they are not at their relative best in this rather routine drama, actor Richard Barthelmess (as Jim Blaine) and director William A. Wellman make "Central Airport" worth visiting. Mr. Barthelmess is in a familiar role as an accident prone World War I pilot. He catches Sally Eilers (as Jill Collins) hanging from a tree, after a parachute drop. This funny/sad sequence, early in the film, is a highlight - Ms. Eilers and Barthelmess have a great meeting, which is immediately followed by great tragedy. Although the two fall in love, Barthelmess won't marry; he thinks daredevil pilots are unstable husband material (a keen observation).
Instead, Eilers marries Barthelmess' little brother Tom Brown (as Bud Blaine). Eilers appears in a far too brief scene in her slip, by the way (about 30 minutes into the running). Later on, an interesting scene occurs with Barthelmess and Eilers in separate rooms, divided by a wall; then, the camera moves is a way which pleasantly violates the "Fourth Wall" rule (showing the set). Another notable sequence occurs later in the film, near the end; wherein, John Wayne appears as an extra. Mr. Wayne plays Mr. Brown's co-pilot, on a downed plane, to the left of your screen. He tries to save a drunken passenger. A somewhat unpredictable ending keeps the film above average.
****** Central Airport (4/15/33) William A. Wellman ~ Richard Barthelmess, Sally Eilers, Tom Brown
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