Yet another variation on GRAND HOTEL, UNION DEPOT actually beat the MGM blockbuster into the theaters by a few months. Critics of the day were quick to notice the similarity between this picture and the Vicki Baum play and novel that served as the basis for GRAND HOTEL. This time the
location is a bustling train station, alive with scurrying passengers, vacationing couples, new immigrants, and low-life vagabonds. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., stars as a disheveled young tramp who wanders the roads and rails with his good friend, Guy Kibbee. Fairbanks finds a forgotten bag full of
cash and a new suit of clothes in the station's washroom, and transforms himself into a respectable citizen. Another character in the terminal is Alan Hale, a bogus baron who carries around a violin case, which he eventually deposits in the checkroom. Also in the station is Joan Blondell, a comely
chorus girl who needs $64 to get a train to Salt Lake City. Amidst all the activity, Hale gets his billfold snatched. Lucky Kibbee finds it, pockets the wad of cash inside, and finds the claim ticket for the violin case. Kibbee and Fairbanks then claim the violin case and bring it to a pawnbroker.
When they look inside the case, however, they find it stuffed with bills and quickly leave the shop. Fairbanks, who has met Blondell by now, assumes that her hard-luck story is just an attempt to separate him from some of his cash. He is finally convinced of her sincerity, however, and gets her
safely on her way to Salt Lake City. While UNION DEPOT pales in comparison with the masterful GRAND HOTEL (which was blessed with a far superior cast), it is still wonderfully smart in that 1930s tradition--rapid dialog, tight editing, sweeping camerawork, and a snappy pace. Unfortunately, this
fine film was overshadowed by the great success of GRAND HOTEL when it opened three months later.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Yet another variation on GRAND HOTEL, UNION DEPOT actually beat the MGM blockbuster into the theaters by a few months. Critics of the day were quick to notice the similarity between this picture and the Vicki Baum play and novel that served as the basis fo… (more)