When Universal announced on February 20, 1946 its purchase of the screen rights to the Broadway show, Felix Jackson, then-husband of Deanna Durbin, was assigned to produce the film. Instead, the studio revealed on November 8 that Mr. Jackson would be opting out of the remainder of his contract after he finished overseeing the editing of another Durbin feature, I'll Be Yours (1947). See more »
Up In Central Park marked a successful return to Broadway for Sigmund Romberg as this musical about the Tammany Hall era of Boss William Marcy Tweed ran for 504 performances during the 1945-46 season on Broadway. Instead of the elegant Vincent Price as the powerful Boss of Tammany Hall Civil War and post Civil War, the part was played by Noah Beery, Sr. Now that certainly would have called for a different kind of Boss Tweed.
Musically what Universal Studios gave us is a half baked version of the Broadway Show. Dick Haymes and Deanna Durbin are in good voice for th Sigmund Romberg-Dorothy Fields numbers still left, but because the music is cut the emphasis of the film turns to Price.
Young Deanna Durbin and her father Albert Sharpe are freshly arrived from Ireland and immediately as was the tradition back in the day, welcomed to the shores by the Tammany political machine. Sharpe takes to the repeat voting the way that Brian Donlevy did in The Great McGinty, but his rise only consists of becoming the superintendent of Central Park which the Tweed Ring plans to 'improve' with many kickbacks for themselves.
In the meantime Durbin comes to the attention of Price, but she also comes to the attention of crusading reporter Dick Haymes. They make beautiful music together and apart in what little is left of the Romberg-Fields score.
If Up In Central Park had been done at MGM it surely would have gotten the production needed for this musical. Unforgivably the big hit song of the film Close As Pages In A Book was not performed and it's a duet which I'm sure Haymes and Durbin would have been great at. I'm betting it ended on the cutting room floor. Close As Pages In A Book is heard on the soundtrack as background music
There's another nice song called It Doesn't Cost You Anything To Dream that was also cut. But what I was most disappointed in was a number called The Fireman's Bride that was not included. It's a rollicking number that I have a recording of Jeanette MacDonald and Robert Merrill doing and I'm sure it must have been great on stage. When it wasn't in the film I was truly disappointed.
Casting Vincent Price as Tweed was a stroke of genius. I truly think that a young woman's virtue would have been far more in danger from him than from Noah Beery. Remembering the villains Beery played on screen, he would have to get really overbearing and physical which he must have on stage.
As a musical Up In Central Park is disappointing, but fans of Vincent Price will appreciate this actor displaying the fact he could do far more than horror films.
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