Thursday, March 5, 2015

Guy Kibbee in Central Park

That's Guy Kibbee on the bottom right, although Lady For a Day isn't one of the films airing tomorrow

Tomorrow, March 6, marks the brith anniversary of Guy Kibbee, who showed up in lot of movies in the 1930s. TCM will be spending the morning and afternoon with a bunch of those 1930s movies, such as Central Park, at 7:30 AM.

The various studios made a couple of interesting "day in the life" movies back in the early 1930s, in an attempt to cast as many of their stars as possible. MGM did Grand Hotel, while Warner Bros. rushed Union Depot into production. Central Park is somewhat along those lines, with a bunch of intersecting plots set in Central Park, except that it's much more of a programmer than a prestige movie.

Joan Blondell plays Dot, an out-of-work actress looking for food in Central Park -- remember, there's a depression on. She meets Rick (Wallace Ford), an out-of-work transplant from Texas. Guy Kibbee plays Charlie, one of the cops patrolling the park. As for the plots, you know that Dot and Rick are going to fall for each other; what else could a movie like this have them do? But Dot also gets involved with gangsters, at least unwittingly. Dot enters a beauty pageant not knowing that it's really a front for those gangsters. The prize is taking part in a charity event at the Central Park Casino which the gangsters are going to rob; Dot's presence will alert the gangsters as to where the money is.

Rick, meanwhile, gets a job washing to police motorcycles, and being generally helpful to Charlie. This is good news for Charlie, because he's got a secret. He's a week or so away from the proverbial 20 years you need for a pension, but he's going blind, and if hte police find out they'll fire him and he won't get his pension. So he just wants to last one more week. Charlie's life is about to get more difficult, though, when one of the former keepers from the Central Park zoo, who had gone nuts and wound up in a mental asylum, escapes, and lets one of the lions loose!

As you can see, there's a lot going on here in this little picture. Where Grand Hotel is nearly two hours, Central Park is a breezy one hour. The result is a movie that doesn't have a whole lot of character development, but winds up being reasonably entertaining, just because Warner Bros. seemed to have the formula down already. That, and the presence of Joan Blondell and Guy Kibbee.

I don't think Central Park has been released to DVD yet, not even from the Warner Archive.

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