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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
Other than fans of John Wayne who want to see if they can spot the Duke in a film where he has no lines at all, the main reason to see Central Airport is a very exciting air/sea rescue sequence. Of course aviation fans will love seeing all the vintage planes, it seems like between them Richard Barthelmess and Tom Brown flew about everything there was circa 1933.
Barthelmess is a commercial pilots who makes a bad call in trying to fly through bad weather and cracks up. He loses his ticket, no airline will hire him, so he's reduced to scratching for a living in the aviation game. That matters not to his brother Tom Brown who worships Barthelmess.
Both of them become rivals for aviatrix Sally Eilers, but when Barthelmess says fliers shouldn't get married, she teams up with Brown.
Of course later on when one of the brothers cracks up at sea, the other flies to rescue him. That's the best part of the film, every bit as exciting as the landing of that much larger commercial plane at San Francisco International airport in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty.
In fact Central Airport is the trick answer to the trivia question what is the first film Wellman directed John Wayne in. Not either of the classic The High and the Mighty or Island in the Sky, or the less successful and non-aviation story Blood Alley. This one where Wayne is a co-pilot of one of the wrecks.
Central Airport is a routine soap opera made better than it is by the rescue scene. For fans of aviation films in general, William Wellman in particular and those who want to spot the Duke.
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