The Prince of Central Park (TV Movie 1977) Poster

(1977 TV Movie)

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warm family film
thomandybish11 March 2002
This seldom-seen movie involves two orphans who flee from their non-caring foster mother and take up residence in an abandoned treehouse in Central Park. While living above it all, they make the acquaintance of a lonely elderly woman, who communicates with them through written messages on a park bench. As the friendship develops, the three come to rely on each other, but when a thug tries to mug the old lady, the two children must make a decision to remain in their kingdom in the trees or come down the tree to reality . ..

Great little film for the whole family. Ruth Gordon is always a joy to watch, as are the brother and sister. Brooke Shields has a small role as girl in the park. At one time this flick was on video(the copyright said 1984 on the cassette I rented from my trusty independent video store)but is now undoubtably out of print. Great Sunday afternoon viewing.
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Like A Lost Sunday...
Bolesroor18 March 2009
When my brother and I were kids and got to go to the video store (always a sacred journey) we usually picked comedy & action films. If it starred a cast member from Saturday Night Live's first five years you can bet we brought it home (Belushi & Aykroyd, Chevy Chase & so on). The Star Wars trilogy was rented hundreds of times, as was the James Bond series... for little kids in the 80's, we considered ourselves pretty cool.

One Saturday we're driven upstate to a sleepover at our Uncle's. It's now almost 1990, and he's taken the liberty of renting a movie for my brother, myself, and my cousin to watch. It's "The Prince Of Central Park," and the eye-rolling began immediately. Our conservative Uncle had intentionally avoided mainstream Hollywood fare and had sought out a G-rated made-for-TV movie from 1977! In the words of my twelve year-old self, "Yuzz..." We couldn't even get out of it... he joined the three of us on the couch and pressed PLAY.

And then something funny happened... instead of the toothless, wholesome hayride I expected I found myself watching an engaging, wistful drama about a boy who runs away from his abusive foster home to find his birth mother. He makes a home for himself in the trees of Central Park and meets some eccentric old people who turn out to be just as unhappy- and restless- as he is. This movie is sweet, and romantic, in every sense of the word. Ruth Gordon is wonderful as always, and though I'm fuzzy on the exact ending, I'm pretty sure I had to hold back the tears so no one would see I was crying.

Imagine a TV movie that isn't designed to shock, offend, or target a particular demographic... a movie whose sole purpose is not to earn it's lead actors Emmy nominations... try and picture a film that's gentle and imaginative... a movie about children and the elderly that treats both groups as intelligent human beings with hearts and souls. I know it's tough to imagine but I guess they really did make them this way. Too bad it was before my time too...

I can't speak about the mainstream Hollywood re-make of 2ooo... I never saw it. Not interested. But if you ever get the chance to see this once-in-a-lifetime find I would advise you not to miss it... you will never forget it.

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The Memory of this Movie Lasts
tinyspyder28 May 2006
In 1977 I was 8 years old. I saw this movie on TV, I am assuming somewhere around that time. The story was so touching to me as a child that now that I am 37 I want to find it and show it to my kids. I could remember the children and the tree house and how they would keep themselves hidden. I think all children at one time or another can relate to that and dream of running off to be on there own free from rules and discipline. This movie also shows how much we rely on and need each other. Surprisingly, I have remembered the title all this time from only seeing it once. I am definitely on a quest to find a copy of this movie. Don't miss a chance to see this wonderful movie. I have to say anything that makes that solid of a memory must be worth watching.
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Great, imaginative childhood drama
Red-Barracuda11 October 2015
I remember watching this film one afternoon in the UK many years ago. I don't know exactly when but I know it was a very long time ago, as in my recollection the lead character J.J. was quite a mature young adult. Having just re-watched it for the first time since then just the other day I was very surprised to discover that he was just a little kid! Clearly I was significantly younger than him when I saw this back then. Anyway, I suppose the important thing is that, despite all the years in between, I actually remembered this one quite well and recalled some scenes pretty clearly. The story is very straightforward and has two orphan kids flee from their uncaring foster home and wind up living in a secret tree house in the middle of New York's Central Park. They soon begin communicating with a lonely elderly woman by way of leaving written messages on a park bench. The intervention of a local mugger brings events out in the open, so to speak.

Revisiting The Prince of Central Park after what must be thirty five years was a very pleasant experience. This was a film made at a time when American TV movies were really rather good. This one is a fine example of a family movie that easily appeals to adults too. Its brother and sister duo make for very appealing central characters. And of course we also have the always brilliant Ruth Gordon, as the woman who befriends them. The story is about love between a brother and sister. It's also about the idea that the children and elderly woman ultimately share similar fears and that some problems are universal. It's very touching and remains a hidden gem of a movie. Someone really needs to give it some kind of release on DVD, as this is one that will always have a certain appeal.
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The Best made for TV Family Film Ever!
w22nuschler27 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I remember watching this film when I was a kid and I was very moved. The movie is about a brother and sister who run away from their foster mother because she is more interested in herself and her needs than taking care of them. They end up finding a place to live in a tree house built years ago in Central Park. They start to bond with an older woman played perfectly by Ruth Gordon. The movie really follows the lives of the children and the chemistry between the kids is wonderful. You can really see the love they have for each other. The older brother is very protective of her and does not want to form any friendships with anyone. He learns during their time in the park that they need to help others and get some help as well. Every scene in this movie is very interesting and well acted. The music also is upbeat and moving. There is an older boy in the film that plays the bad guy. He goes around stealing from others in the park. There are some good scenes throughout with the brother and the older boy. It has a really nice ending and the whole story really seems to fit and work so well. It is obvious that Hollywood no longer has a clue how to makes films like this. It is just a sweet, simple story about to kids trying to survive and finding the love of an older woman who needs them. It was sad for me to find out the the brother in the film was killed during the 911 attacks. He only had 4 acting roles listed on this site. The only role the younger sister ever had was in this film. Both of them were really fine actors and it was a shock to me that they did not do more acting.
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Pure class
chrismonkee18 November 2018
I watched it aged around 7 years old. A year or two after this was made. Absolutely superb. Thinking kids entertainment.

I watched a lot of TV as a kid, this one, I still remember so vividly. An absolutely magical afternoon sat on my own, watching this on a black and white TV.

I've often considered watching it again as a middle-aged father, but maybe you can't go back.
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Fantastic childhood memories
slick-ultra14 April 2014
I am so pleased to be able to finally track this title down by searching 'keywords' on this site I have been trying to locate this for many years now. I have fond memories of this as being one of the first films I watched on television almost 40 years ago. It inspired many happy dreams for me when my family life was not always so great and wished that I too could escape and hide away from the world. I hope to now find a copy of this film so that I can revisit my childhood dreams and I hope my own children will also appreciate this beautiful story even though all aspects of their upbring and family life has been completely different to mine. Truly lovely story that I would recommend to all.
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I loved this movie
nortonphil17 February 2014
We watched this movie on TV when I visited Miami as a kid in 1977.

I remember it to this day and would love to find a copy.

The two main characters hide out in central park (which as a child I had no idea how big it actually was) and create their own reality.

Along the way they encounter threats to their secret hiding place.

They also have to make a decision as to whether they keep their secret and watch an injustice or defend someone and be exposed.

A brilliant family film.

As the other reviewers have noted - this film is about the love between the brother and sister.

If anyone finds a copy - let me know - would love to watch this with my kids.
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I remember this film from long ago
cardfan1 September 2002
In response to the last comment, this is the movie that was previously described. You are thinking of a late 90s film of the same name. This charming film shows the young and old as disenfranchised kindred spirits. It develops into quite a tear-jerker. If you ever get a chance to see this film, I would think you would agree it's a nice little story.
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One of my favourite movies of all time
nortonphil6 May 2019
Super movie. Well acted, nicely paced. On of my favourite movies of all time.
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This movie
clysaj5 August 2002
I thought the first description given was very nice, but that's the wrong movie, because this movie is about a boy who runs away from his foster mother, because she's abusive and ends up living in Central Park where he goes through the "Journey to Manhood." He's also trying to find his mother. He's helped along the way by his social worker, a lady who wants him as her son, because he reminds her of her dead son, and "the guardian."
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