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 Neil and Jill are inside the passenger plane talking to the friend who had seen Neil's brother Jim, the view out the window beside Jill shows the plane at first parked (as the pilot excuses himself and moves up the aisle between them to take the controls), then begins moving on the ground and picking up speed and taking off. But the entire time, the sound of an idling engine is heard very loudly in the background. The engine sound should have changed to a high-rev sound for takeoff. See more »
The only real evidence of the directorial touch (often a fist) of Wild Bill Wellman here are the well-done aviation scenes and the sexual tension. As a pre-code entry, Central Airport has a handful of scenes that would undoubtedly be axed a year later--- Dick and Sally canoodle in adjoining hotel rooms without the dubious benefit of marriage and the plot would've probably been reworked. As it goes, it's pure soap involving lost love and a few assorted body parts. Richard Barthemless's career was on the wane by 1933 and it's not hard to tell why. He's stiff and his acting style is far more suitable for silents. With the novelty of talkies wearing off, Central Airport had to be one of Warner's biggest budgeted pictures of the year. It boasts some decent special effects and the crash scenes (and there's more than one) must've been spectacular for depression-era audiences who treated pilots back then like we saw astronauts in the 1960's. Whines: John Wayne's part defines the term 'bit'--- he's barely in the movie and you practically have to keep your eyes peeled to spot him (his other notable 1933 walk-on was in Warner's Babyface, but at least he's given some lines)--- back to the Warner's Lone Star low-budget oaters for him until John Ford decides he deserves another A-picture shot after a decade as a sometimes singin' cowboy. I also spotted WB chorus girl Pat Wing (Gill)(not credited by IMDb) in a crowd sequence standing horrified behind an announcer--- her ravishing sister, Toby is credited as originally being cast but apparently became an editing room casualty. Look for the still-breathing Charles Lane as a radio operator early on (happy 100th Mr. Lane!). I love pre-code talkies... Central Airport is by no means the best of the lot but it has just enough ingredients thrown in to hold your interest. If you want to see a better example of 1933 Wellman, see Wild Boys of the Road.
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