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Union Depot

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Finders keepers. Amid the comings and goings at Union Depot, on-the-grift Chic and his pal Scrap Iron retrieve a dropped baggage-claim ticket. They redeem it for a violin case - and open it to find a fortune in cash. Now Chic can put on airs and impress the doll-faced, down-on-her-luck chorus girl he meets at the station. And maybe she can travel to her next show on his dime (and flee a deviant stalker, to boot). Meanwhile, detectives can close in on the pair for passing around a lot of counterfeit dough.

With top Talkie Era stars (Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Blondell) and come-hither pre-Code e?lan and innuendo, Union Depot is the place for "great fun, brimming with early-1930s flavor" (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide).

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, Alan Hale, David Landau
  • Directors: Alfred E. Green
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: WB
  • DVD Release Date: February 16, 2006
  • Run Time: 68 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0040BJGZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,606 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Douglas M VINE VOICE on August 7, 2010
Format: DVD
"Union Depot" is a very impressive Warner Brothers production from 1932. This is a more lavish production than normal with an enormous and detailed set of a railroad station. The film has a documentary feel starting with the opening credits which are spartan, listing only the stars Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Joan Blondell. The camera floats down from the Union Depot sign to the entrance, follows 2 men through the door then floats back up to an expansive view of the interior, teeming with extras. It then continues to dolly in and out of individuals with snatches of dialogue, providing vignettes of the inhabitants - prostitutes on the make (note the hilarious put down of a sailor), a father farewelling his family with a subtle look of relief when they have gone, ethnic groups etc and since this is pre-code Hollywood, there is a pronounced emphasis on sex in a variety of combinations. The first 5 minutes of the film are brilliant - the use of the camera, the script, the sheer creativity on view. The director was the journeyman Alfred E Green! What a surprise.

The film eventually introduces the unemployed leads, Fairbanks as a hobo and Blondell as a chorus girl, being pursued by a lecherous and kinky sugar daddy. Fairbanks is smart and slick and Blondell is appealing and vulnerable, by no means the knowing dame she normally played. The film intertwines various subplots very cleverly in the manner of the much more famous "Grand Hotel". It does not matter that the story is melodramatic. The dialogue is what counts.

This is a Warner's Archive release meaning the print is unrestored, there are no extras and the DVD is very expensive. In this case, the print is at least in good condition.
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The charge is sometimes made that Joan never starred in a truly excellent film but shone in so-so ones. UNION DEPOT supports this to the extent that it's more Douglas Fairbanks Jr's film than Joan's, but she still gets plenty of screen time and is excellent in all of it. DF is rather more animated than we usually see him, and the supporting roles are largely well-done.

As another reviewer remarked, the opening sequence is noteworthy in itself -- starting immediately, pre-empting even the usual opening fanfare. As the camera dips and turns from one bit part to another, the depot itself is established as a character before the principals even appear. It seems worth mentioning the similarities to GRAND HOTEL -- nine months before that film was released.

After having seen PUBLIC ENEMY, GOLDDIGGERS OF 1933, NIGHT NURSE, OTHER MEN'S WOMEN, MILLIE, THREE ON A MATCH and even BLONDIE JOHNSON, I found that UNION DEPOT was the quality Joan Blondell drama I'd been looking for. The camera work and dialog make this one of her better films, and one that rewards repeat viewing. UNION DEPOT deserves much more than this minimal presentation, but at least we get to see this undoubted Pre-Code treasure again. Definitely recommended
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Since referencing GRAND HOTEL seems to be the trending thing, here's my jumping on the pile. Sucks for 1932's UNION DEPOT that GRAND HOTEL released a few months later that same year and snagged the accolades and the word-of-mouth buzz. Warner Bros. set up UNION DEPOT to succeed, only MGM came that much harder with its star power, its criss-crossing of fates, and its glossy production values. My two cents - in Hollywood circles, worth no cents - is that UNION DEPOT deserves to be heralded as a classic motion picture.

It balances its soap opera elements with a cops & robbers thread that manifests soon enough. The neat thing about staging the story in such a bustling metropolitan train terminal is that you bump into characters from all walks of life. I agree that it's a technically sound film. The brilliant opening sequence alone is a master class in composition and in orchestration of its moving parts. It's a remarkable train station set that was erected specifically for UNION DEPOT but would resurface in future Warners' films.

Charles "Chick" Miller (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and his rarely sober pal "Scrap Iron" (Guy Kibbee) are two hobos fresh out of serving ten days in stir. Chick is fed up with feeding on vagrancy beans, so he decides to become a gent for a day. From outside and thru a barred window he extricates a Navy coat and hat from a hanging hook in a public lavatory. Scrap Iron remarks: "You just can't keep away from barred windows, can't you, Chick?" But here's Chick, a new sailory man with instant respectability. He soon encounters stranded chorus girl Ruth Collins (Joan Blondell). She's in dire need of $64.50 for fare to Salt Lake City so she could hook up with her show. If she's not there soon, she forfeits her job.
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Really a great film. Should be recognized as an important film before the code.
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