UP IN CENTRAL PARK
(director/writer: William A. Seiter; screenwriter: Karl Tunberg/based on the musical play by Herbert and Dorothy Fields and Sigmund Romberg; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Otto Ludwig; music: Johnny Green; cast: Deanna Durbin (Rosie Moore), Dick Haymes (John Matthews), Vincent Price (Boss Tweed), Albert Sharpe (Timothy Moore), Tom Powers (Rogan), Hobart Cavanaugh (Mayor Oakley), Thurston Hall (Governor Motley), Moroni Olsen (Big Jim Fitts), Tom Pedi (O’Toole); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Karl Tunberg/Michael Todd; Universal; 1948)
“Let down by an awkward execution of its heavy-handed storyline.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
William A. Seiter (“Broadway”/”Borderline”/”Four Jills in a Jeep”)directs this flat musical comedy. It’s based on the 1945-46 Broadway musical play by Herbert and Dorothy Fields and Sigmund Romberg, which was only at best considered okay. It is written by Karl Tunberg.The film is a major disappointment, let down by an awkward execution of its heavy-handed storyline and by dropping most of the songs from the play. But it kept the Currier & Ives ballet and several songs, including “Oh, Say Can You See What I See,” “Carousel in the Park,” “Pace, Pace Mio Dio” and “When She Walks in the Room.” Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes are alright when singing, but when acting there was little chemistry between them and their tepid romance never had any sparks.
In the 1880s Irish immigrants Timothy Moore (Albert Sharpe) and his pretty daughter Rosie (Deanna Durbin) come to America and our met at Ellis Island by one of Boss Tweed’s emissaries, who pays dad money to vote over twenty times for Tammany Hall backed incompetent candidate, the incumbent Mayor Oakley (Hobart Cavanaugh). Soon the corrupt but charming married Tammany Hall head, Boss Tweed (Vincent Tweed), has romantic ideas with aspiring opera singer Rosie, and gets on her good side by offering her illiterate hayseed brogue speaking father the well-paid post of Central Park supervisor.All that’s required of him is to keep quiet about the crooked money deals concerning the rebuilding of the park, but is tricked into blabbing to muckraking NY Times reporter John Matthews (Dick Haymes) and gets the ax. The reporter is smitten with Rosie, but has a tough time courting her when Boss Tweed plies her with riches and opportunities to be an opera star.When John, with the help of Rosie’s now enlightened dad, get the goods on Boss Tweed, then it finally dawns on Rosie that her suitor benefactor is a crook. But, after a few tears, there’s John waiting to comfort her for being duped by the crooked politician, and this trite pic ends on a happy note.
This turns out to be a weak star vehicle for Durbin. Even Price, the best one in the pic, seems to be only going through the motions, as he probably deduced this dog doesn’t have much bite for him get all worked up over. In any case, he was badly miscast (he’s unconvincing as Boss Tweed).
REVIEWED ON 4/17/2011 GRADE: C+