Maybe the film should have been called The Lecher, the Floozie and the Rube, because Central Airport doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. I kept waiting for it to turn into a Grand Hotel at an airport, but it’s really a soaper about pilot Richard Barthelmess who romances air show parachuter Sally Eilers only to lose her to his younger brother, played by Tom Brown.
The film’s pre-code so there’s premarital sex and wedded sex. Eilers is frequently in lingerie. When she and Barthelmess meet, he can’t keep his eyes or hands off her. Only after her brother explodes does Barthelmess control his hands.
But Barthelmess doesn’t want to marry her because fliers shouldn’t get married (I think someone else dies or something). And now Eilers is a tarnished woman. Conveniently enter younger brother Brown who’s devoted to her. He’ll marry her–even after she tells him everything.
Barthelmess finds out, runs off to Mexico and becomes a hero in China, Chile and Nicaragua. He’s devastatingly heroic and Eilers gets bright-eyed whenever anyone says his name. When they meet again, they’re all set to make a cuckold of Brown, but then he’s in a life threatening situation.
My favorite part of the picture is when Eilers is upset Brown’s survived his ordeal.
Wellman’s direction is fantastic. There are some great models and effects shots.
It’s a story about nasty people doing nasty things to each other and the viewer is supposed to feel bad for them.
Directed by William A. Wellman; screenplay by Rian James and James Seymour, based on a story by Jack Moffitt; director of photography, Sidney Hickox; edited by James B. Morley; music by Howard Jackson and Bernhard Kaun; produced by Hal B. Wallis; released by Warner Bros.
Starring Richard Barthelmess (Jim Blaine), Sally Eilers (Jill Collins), Tom Brown (Neil Blaine), Grant Mitchell (Mr. Blaine), James Murray (Eddie Hughes), Claire McDowell (Mrs. Blaine), Willard Robertson (Havana Airport Manager) and Arthur Vinton (Amarillo Airport Manager).