Dot (Joan Blondell) and Rick (Wallace Ford) are both unemployed transplants, having moved to New York from small, fly-over towns. They meet in Central Park one day, when they share a meal of two stolen hot dogs from a lunch stand in the park. Both quite lonely in the city, they agree to meet again soon.
On her way out of the park, Dot is picked up by a police car and offered a job by Nick Sarno (Harold Huber). Details are vague, and the gig is supposedly part of an undercover operation. But is the deal legitimate, or are Dot and her new friend Rick about to find themselves in a world of trouble?
Central Park was directed by John G. Adolfi, written by Ward Morehouse and Earl Baldwin. The entire film is set within the confines of the famous park, though it was shot in a Hollywood studio — the park replicated through sound stages and screen projections.
Released by Warner Bros., Central Park captures the studio’s signature fast-paced, action-driven style of drama.
Also in line with the studio’s reputation during this period is the film’s social commentary. The script, like that of Gold Diggers of 1933 and other Warner pictures, is not very shy in its discussion of the Depression. While Dot and Rick aren’t shown living in a shanty town or fighting through a homeless New York winter, they are unemployed, struggling to even find a meal, much less make ends meet. (The crime drama they become involved in is related to the Depression as well, though I won’t spoil it for those of you who have not seen the film.)
I always enjoy watching the very talented Joan Blondell (who appeared in TEN films released in 1932 alone!), and she’s as wonderful as ever here. The whole cast does well with the script, but Blondell is the only one who really brings star power to the screen, playing one of her signature tough, wise-cracking dames.
As a fan of early ’30s Warner films, I enjoyed watching this. It’s obviously a “quick and cheap” picture that doesn’t do much break free from the formula, aside from adding in a few intense scenes involving big cats (residents of the zoo in Central Park). However, it’s a decent way to pass the time. The score: 3/5
The stunt scenes with a real lion are very intense, unsettlingly so!