Tuesday 4 April 2000

Warren William

Warren William is one of the most joyous discoveries any filmgoer is likely to have, because his moment to shine was in the precode era from 1929-1934 and everything that came after that crippled his talents no end. His name is hardly remembered today, except to those who have made that discovery and to them he's a bright star, unique in the history of film. Unfortunately an early death in 1948 at 53 left us with only 65 films to work through.

He was unique in the precode era because you could never tell whether he was really the hero or the villain. In fact he was both, combining both halves of the coin neatly together in such a way as to strip bare the truth behind whatever issue was being addressed in these films. He could and would do the most bare faced things, utterly uncaring of the consequences for anyone else, and yet we can't help loving him for it. No other villain has been so heroic and no other hero has been so villainous as one played by Warren William during the precode era.

After enforcement of the code began he was relegated to detective series and roles that seriously restricted his range. Nonetheless he was still watchable, even though he was inherently a shadow of his former self. He was the first screen Perry Mason, playing the role four times; he was also Philo Vance twice and Michael Lanyard, the Lone Wolf, in no less than nine films. Yet he also played opposite May Robson in Frank Capra's Lady for a Day, Claudette Colbert in Imitation of Life and Cleopatra and Bette Davis in the second film version of The Maltese Falcon, Satan Met a Lady.

Here are links to reviews here at Apocalypse Later, with some older reviews from my far less substantial 2006 blog at Hal and Dee at the Movies and links to the IMDb pages for each film. Ratings are for films watched since 2004, reviews since 2006. H is me, D is my better half.

Rating System
1 - Abysmal | 2 - Bad | 3 - Poor | 4 - OK | 5 - Good | 6 - Excellent | 7 - Classic

Reviews at Apocalypse Later
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
The Match King 1932 6 6 Howard Bretherton & William Keighley IMDB
Employees' Entrance 1933 6 6 Roy Del Ruth IMDB
The Mind Reader 1933 5 5 Roy Del Ruth IMDB
Gold Diggers of 1933 1933 6 6 Mervyn LeRoy IMDB
Smarty 1934 4 4 Robert Florey IMDB
Dr Monica 1934 4 4 William Keighley IMDB
The Secret Bride 1934 4 4 William Dieterle IMDB
Living on Velvet 1935 4 4 Frank Borzage IMDB
The Firefly 1937 4 4 Robert Z Leonard IMDB
Madame X 1937 6 6 Sam Wood IMDB
Arsène Lupin Returns 1938 6 5 George Fitzmaurice IMDB
The First Hundred Years 1938 3 3 Richard Thorpe IMDB
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt 1939 5 5 Peter Godfrey IMDB
The Man in the Iron Mask 1939 5 5 James Whale IMDB
The Lone Wolf Strikes 1940 4 5 Sidney Salkow IMDB
Lillian Russell 1940 4 4 Irving Cummings IMDB
The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady 1940 5 5 Sidney Salkow IMDB
Arizona 1940 4 4 Wesley Ruggles IMDB
The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date 1941 3 3 Sidney Salkow IMDB
The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance 1941 5 5 Sidney Salkow IMDB
Passport to Suez 1943 4 4 André De Toth IMDB

Old Reviews at Hal and Dee at the Movies
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
Under Eighteen 1932 6 6 Archie Mayo IMDB
Beauty and the Boss 1932 6 Roy Del Ruth IMDB
The Dark Horse 1932 5 Alfred E Green IMDB
Skyscraper Souls 1932 6 6 Edgar Selwyn IMDB
Bedside 1934 5 Robert Florey IMDB
Times Square Playboy 1936 4 4 William McGann IMDB
Satan Met a Lady 1936 5 6 William Dieterle IMDB

Rated Not Reviewed
Title Year H D Director(s) IMDb
The Mouthpiece 1932 6 James Flood & Elliott Nugent IMDB
Three on a Match 1932 5 6 Mervyn LeRoy IMDB
Lady for a Day 1933 7 Frank Capra IMDB
Upperworld 1934 5 Roy Del Ruth IMDB
The Dragon Murder Case 1934 6 6 H Bruce Humberstone IMDB
The Case of the Howling Dog 1934 6 6 Alan Crosland IMDB
Cleopatra 1934 4 Cecil B De Mille IMDB
Imitation of Life 1934 6 John M Stahl IMDB
The Case of the Curious Bride 1935 6 6 Michael Curtiz IMDB
The Case of the Lucky Legs 1935 6 6 Archie L Mayo IMDB
The Case of the Velvet Claws 1936 5 5 William Clemens IMDB
Day-Time Wife 1939 4 4 Gregory Ratoff IMDB
The Wolf Man 1941 6 7 George Waggner IMDB

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