2 April 2005 | mik-19
A dictator of New York
The dialogue and the overflowing production values of 'Up in Central Park' are two pleasurable surprises so many years afterwards to someone who is only just discovering the legacy of Deanna Durbin.
What never ceases to amaze me is the high standard of her films. They were, actually and in the flow of things, pretty run-of-the-mill, but the majority of them work incredibly well today, and 'Up in Central Park' is one of the most delightful. It has a magnificent script about a magnate, in actual fact a kind of dictator of New York City who whitewashes his money through Central Park, has the puppet mayor elected by bribing immigrants just off Ellis Island to vote in the names of dead constituents, and is just overall a very bad guy. He is played by Vincent Price, of course, soft-voiced, seductive and insinuating. An utter gentleman even at the end. "I wish more patriots like you would come to this country", he says, debonairly and hilariously. Deanna Durbin is the young Irish girl with dreams of becoming an opera star. She has just arrived in New York with her illiterate father who is given the position of superintendent of Central Park, because Vincent Price thinks his daughter overheard his evil plans for the city. Then enters young, ambitious reporter Dick Haynes with his lovely tenor voice, and he wants to bring the mighty down.
So we have young budding love, we have the older lecher, we have filial duty, and we have scathing political satire, believe me. "If you're strong enough to take something, it belongs to you", Vincent Price says, and the film takes him seriously as it well might, and the jokes aside Price's character is not too far off the mark.
The music is pleasant, the acting a sheer joy, and the pacing admirable.