Central Park - 1932
Central Park - Released December 10, 1932. Directed by John G. Adolfi
Wallace Ford and Joan Blondell are a pair of young people who meet in New York's Central Park. They're both hungry and unemployed and are each staring at a cook frying sausage on a hot plate at a sidewalk food stand when a moments distraction (someone throws a rock through the cook's glass window) allows Joan's character (Dot) a chance to steal a couple of sausages and pieces of flatbread. She shares her meal with Ford's character (Rick) and a friendship starts up. Dot has an appointment for a job and the two make a date to meet later at the park, where the destitute Rick has been sleeping.
The American "Great Depression" was in full swing in 1932 (though 1933 was a far worse year) when Central Park was made, and the gritty situation depicted in the film effortlessly puts forward ethical decisions about stealing and general lawbreaking; it might be okay to steal food, but not to rook a whole charity event, which is what Joan's character gets fooled into doing by a vicious gang run by crook Nick Sarno (played by Harold Huber.)
Guy Kibbee is on hand as a veteran policeman (Charlie Cabot) who has only one week of duty left before he can retire with a pension, the only problem is that his eyesight is rapidly failing and he's in constant danger of being exposed for being unfit for duty. All of our characters will crisscross one another repeatedly as the heist plot to rob a charity event brings everything to a head, including a subplot about escaped lions at the Central Park Zoo (policeman Cabot likes to play with the cubs).
Director Adolfi doesn't have a lot of runtime (the films clocks in at 58 minutes) but he and the cast make the most of it, though not with much finesse, and the writers (Ward Morehouse and Earl Baldwin) contrast the understandable criminality of desperate and hungry (and attractive) young people swiping food against the cruelty of gangsters stealing money meant for charity work. Adolfi and the screenplay gives the gang no sympathy, and though Warners Bros was quite capable of distributing gangster movies that at least marginally glamorized the style and lives of crooks, none of that is on screen here, just hard-hearted thugs using force to try and take someone else's money.
More Joan Blondell
Original Page March 27, 2017
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- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
- Robert Osborne - 1932 - 2017 - The "Movie Man" who worked as a film historian and host for The Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies.
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