Warren William: “[He] “Was an Old Man Even When He Was a Young Man.”

Earlier this month, the Morlocks participated in a blogathon in which we explored the films of Toshiro Mifune, the legendary Japanese movie star who was part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. While I was happy to give one of the worlds’ most talented actors his due, my first choice for the blogathon was Warren William, who will be spotlighted this Thursday, August 30.

Warren William is largely forgotten today, though he was a prolific film actor for Warner Bros. during the Depression. He did not have the reputation or long career of peers Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, or William Powell, but William makes an interesting study for a couple of reasons. The Warner Bros. films of the early 1930s were ripped from the headlines of the day. They featured characters who struggled with issues of employment whether they were scrambling for a job, conniving to keep their job, or turning to crime because legitimate work eluded them. William’s urbane, well-dressed persona was suited to this hard-scrabble world because he could play the cold-hearted millionaires, abusive bosses, and society sophisticates who clashed with the working folk. Also, his career peaked in the early to mid-1930s, which parallels most of the pre-Code era (1930 to 1934). Several of William’s films include the edgy situations, randy characters, and provocative dialogue that we have all come to love about pre-Code movies.

ERROL FLYNN APPEARED BRIEFLY AS A CORPSE IN THIS FILM. A FEW WEEKS LATER, FLYNN  LANDED THE LEAD IN ‘CAPTAIN BLOOD,’ A ROLE WILLIAM HAD EXPECTED TO PLAY.

Born in Minnesota in 1894, Warren William Ketch had originally planned to become a journalist like his father but chose to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts instead. After serving in the army during WWI, and touring France with a theatrical troupe, he became a stage actor in New York during the 1920s, shortening his name to Warren William. He made a few silent films, but given his mellifluous speaking voice, he was well suited for the talkies. He signed with Warner Bros. in 1931, landing the lead role in Honor of the Family. As with most of their leading actors, Warners worked William to the point of exhaustion—and exploitation—throughout the early Depression. He starred in 35 films between 1931 and 1936, appearing in nine in 1934.

That year, William was touted as the lead for the film version of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood, a role he eagerly anticipated. Unfortunately, an unknown actor named Errol Flynn landed the part, which made the newcomer a major star. Feeling insulted, an angry William asked to be released from his contract, but Jack Warner refused, instead relegating him to lesser roles and B-movies. William finally left Warners in 1936 to work at Paramount, though he also appeared in films for MGM, Columbia, and even Monogram. He managed to star in a variety of genres, including westerns such as Arizona, Wild Bill Hickok Rides, and Trail of the Vigilantes. His suave manner, rich, dulcet tones, and reputation as a dapper dresser are the opposite traits of the typical cowboy hero, but he tended to portray villains in these films. In the late 1930s, he enjoyed a measure of success playing private investigators in classic detective tales, including Perry Mason, Philo Vance, and Arsene Lupin. I was surprised to learn that William portrayed a version of Sam Spade in the 1936 interpretation of The Maltese Falcon, Satan Met a Lady, though the  character’s name was changed to Ted Shane.

IN THE 1940s, WILLIAM PLAYED THE TITLE CHARACTER IN THE LONE WOLF SERIES.

During the 1940s, William’s bread and butter was playing retired and reformed jewel thief Michael Lanyard, also known as the Lone Wolf, in Columbia’s sleuthing series, which took advantage of the actor’s ability to play well-spoken, debonair characters. He also popped up in more notable films during the war years but generally in secondary roles, including a turn as the doctor in The Wolf Man, where his part consisted mostly of noting that the victims’ throats had been “ripped out” or “torn open.”

William died of multiple melanoma in 1948 at the relatively young age of 53. This means he was only in his mid-30s when he raced through three dozen films at Warners’ as  the urbane, authoritarian sophisticate, though he seemed much older. As Joan Blondell once remarked, “[He] “was an old man even when he was a young man.”

William’s elegant, educated, and sometimes elitist persona fit an archetype that was prevalent during the Depression. Other actors with similar star images included Adolphe Menjou, William Powell, Fredric March, and John Barrymore, though each actor stamped their personal signature on this archetype, which was typical of the personality-oriented acting style of the day. His pencil mustache, slicked-back hair, and long, elegant nose gave him a distinguished profile not unlike Barrymore’s, and his perfect diction recalled Powell or Menjou. However, William excelled at playing heels whose polished appearance and smooth tones masked a cold heart or ruthless agenda. His characters could be sympathetic as in Gold Diggers of 1933 and Three on a Match, or downright merciless as in Employees’ Entrance.

WILLIAM AND HIS DOG, JILL.

It was William’s ability to reveal a wicked self-amusement or a heartfelt self-awareness through the rapid-fire Warners’ dialogue that not only distinguished him from the pack but also made him the perfect incarnation of the Depression era’s version of the 1%. The era bred disdain for American social institutions that had let down the working and middle class, and William excelled at playing characters who represented those institutions, including calculating politicians, shyster lawyers, crooked bankers, and corrupt businessmen/bosses. As the Depression eased up, and Warner Bros. shifted away from gritty, topical subject matter, the studio and William left behind his special brand of well-toned heel. Subsequently, William is far less memorable in the films of his later career, with perhaps one or two notable exceptions.

My recommendations for Warren William’s much deserved day on TCM showcase his persona as honed by Warner Bros. in their gritty, Depression-era films. As time passes, these films become more revelatory of the everyday issues and concerns of the era, making them more appealing to me. It’s like opening the door to another time and place and, yet, many of the issues and events in the storylines are remarkably relevant for today.

The Mouthpiece (1932).  Based  on the career of flamboyant trial lawyer William Joseph Fallon, this drama established William as a major player at Warner Bros. and marked the first time that he played a character devoid of morality. The real-life Fallon was a gambler and libertine who was also counsel to  the notable and the notorious during the early Depression, including Arnold Rothstein, alleged fixer of the 1919 World Series, and Nickie Arnstein, Fannie Brice’s gambler husband. Though William’s character is called Vincent Day in this film, Fallon had been dubbed “the Mouthpiece” by the press, so there is no mistaking the reference. William’s fellow urbane sophisticates, John Barrymore and William Powell, also turned out movies that year based on the headline-grabbing Fallon—State’s Attorney and Lawyer Man, respectively.

WILLIAM WOOS INNOCENT MAUREEN O’ SULLIVAN IN ‘SKYSCRAPER SOULS’ FOR MGM.

Skyscraper Souls (1932). William was loaned to MGM for this timely tale of a developer turned banker—two professions that inspired anger in the hearts of millions during the Depression. William stars as womanizing David Dwight, who keeps his wife at bay by sending her on endless vacations so he can toy with his secretary, played by Maureen O’Sullivan. The secretary hires a young assistant, who becomes a new target for David’s advances. Not content to wreck everyone’s personal lives, he ruins their finances when he launches a successful bid to get full control of his skyscraper by manipulating the company’s stock price.

Three on a Match (1932). I occasionally show this melodrama in my classes, partly because of the taut, fast pace established by Mervyn LeRoy, who was one of the first to use montage sequences to suggest the quick passage of time, and partly because of the sensationalized content. Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, and Bette Davis star as three friends who meet up after several years. The story picks up their lives in adulthood, with Dvorak playing the most outrageous character. It seems she has grown weary of her role as wife and mother and takes up with a handsome gambler, leading to drug addiction and child endangerment. William plays a sympathetic role as her husband who becomes involved with Blondell’s character. Blondell’s street smarts and wisecracking slang complemented William’s educated sophistication and proper diction, and the two were reteamed for Gold Diggers of 1933.

WARREN AND JOAN BLONDELL DANCE SWEETLY IN ‘GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.’

The Match King (1932). By the end of 1932, barely two years after signing with Warner Bros., William was a such a big star that reviewers referred to The Match King as “Warren William’s latest picture.” This tawdry story of ruthless, diabolical industrialist Paul Kroll was based on the career of real-life entrepreneur and financier Ivar Kreuger, who had built a global empire by monopolizing the match industry through unethical and illegal business practices. Once again, the character’s name was changed to protect First National and Warner Bros., but the title of the film is a clear reference to Kreuger, who was called the Match King in the press. The studio need not have worried about libel,  because Kreuger, who had lost his vast fortune in the financial calamity of the Depression, shot himself a few weeks before production began. This film helped establish William as a dapper dresser, because the studio publicity department churned out press releases about his 22 costume changes in 79 minutes. Each costume represented an improvement on the “texture and tailoring until, as time goes by and his position becomes apparently impregnable, he wears the finest that human hands can weave and put together.”

Gold Diggers of 1933. William received top billing in this legendary backstage musical that featured many of Warner Bros. now-famous stars—Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers, and Joan Blondell. He plays Lawrence, big brother to Dick Powell’s Brad, who is the rebellious youngest son of one of New York’s wealthiest families. Brad prefers to pen snappy Broadway show tunes while hanging out with his chorus girl neighbors than to hobnob with the upper crust. Lawrence arrives on the scene to whisk Brad away, insulting the working-class show folk with his classist attitude and narrow-minded views—until he falls for sassy, wise-cracking Joan Blondell. When Blondell cuts Lawrence down to size and melts his frosty heart, it must have been a cathartic moment for working folk everywhere.

AN AD FOR ‘EMPLOYEES’ ENTRANCE’ PLAYS ON DEPRESSION-ERA FEARS.

Employees Entrance (1933). As the tyrannical manager of a department store, William manipulates his employees by threatening dismissal or promising promotion. He hires women based on their willingness to indulge him with sex, and he pimps out his shop girls to distract his enemies. He intimidates, cajoles, berates, and preys on his employees, holding their future in the palm of his hand with no regard for his responsibilities in the work force. His character, Kurt Anderson, represents ruthless capitalism with no constraints, which is a capitalism with no conscious.  As he snarls to his timid board of directors, “My code is ‘smash or be smashed.’” William also played licentious bosses in the comedy Beauty and the Boss (1932) and the drama Under 18 (1931), leaving me to speculate that this was par for the course for working women of the Depression.

The Mind Reader (1933). The storyline of this melodrama reminded me of Nightmare Alley. It was written by Wilson Mizner, a former associate of Harry Houdini who had helped the magician expose charlatans. William stars as Chandra the Great, a con artist who develops a phony fortune-telling act with two partners. After he meets and woos young Sylvia, played by Constance Cummings, she implores him to go straight. How young is Sylvia? Well, his partner feels compelled to remind him of the Mann Act! Chandra attempts to go straight, but he quickly takes advantage of an opportunity to become a mind reader named Dr. Munro, who caters to wealthy clients. Look for Mayo Methot, who was Bogart’s third wife, in a small part.

Doherty, Thomas. Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1999.

Strangeland, John. Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood. McFarland, 2010.

0 Response Warren William: “[He] “Was an Old Man Even When He Was a Young Man.”
Posted By Doug : August 27, 2012 2:24 pm

William was FUN to watch, especially in “Satan Met a Lady” and the ‘Lone Wolf” series. Playing against Bette Davis and Ida Lupino, he worked with the best.
And died too young-the Lone Wolf should have been retired when he passed.

Posted By Doug : August 27, 2012 2:24 pm

William was FUN to watch, especially in “Satan Met a Lady” and the ‘Lone Wolf” series. Playing against Bette Davis and Ida Lupino, he worked with the best.
And died too young-the Lone Wolf should have been retired when he passed.

Posted By DBenson : August 27, 2012 2:36 pm

Love his Perry Mason films. He’s a shyster on the side of the angels, reveling in money, women and slick maneuvering. Saving a client and revealing the real killer just happen to coincide with his less noble pleasures.

Posted By DBenson : August 27, 2012 2:36 pm

Love his Perry Mason films. He’s a shyster on the side of the angels, reveling in money, women and slick maneuvering. Saving a client and revealing the real killer just happen to coincide with his less noble pleasures.

Posted By Maryann : August 27, 2012 8:31 pm

Great post, he was truly and underrated actor. However it is a little hard to imagine him as Captain Blood.

Posted By Maryann : August 27, 2012 8:31 pm

Great post, he was truly and underrated actor. However it is a little hard to imagine him as Captain Blood.

Posted By Jason : August 27, 2012 8:54 pm

Have to say, “Employees’ Entrance” and “Skyscraper Souls” really are guilty pleasures of mine. The ruthlessness, sleaze, and utter unconcern for how his actions affect others that William imbues those characters with is just amazing. The thing that strikes me most about these performances is his screen presence. For early 30s films, it really stands out. Like Brando, Deniro, and his contemporary, Cagney, he seems to completely dominate the scenes he is in; you just can’t take your eyes off him.

Don’t know who owns the rights to those films, but really wish they would see a DVD release – maybe in a future Precode set.

Posted By Jason : August 27, 2012 8:54 pm

Have to say, “Employees’ Entrance” and “Skyscraper Souls” really are guilty pleasures of mine. The ruthlessness, sleaze, and utter unconcern for how his actions affect others that William imbues those characters with is just amazing. The thing that strikes me most about these performances is his screen presence. For early 30s films, it really stands out. Like Brando, Deniro, and his contemporary, Cagney, he seems to completely dominate the scenes he is in; you just can’t take your eyes off him.

Don’t know who owns the rights to those films, but really wish they would see a DVD release – maybe in a future Precode set.

Posted By idlemendacity : August 27, 2012 9:12 pm

Warren William always struck me as an American George Sanders, too bad he didn’t have some of the roles Sanders had in the 40s (WW is the spitting image of Charles II for example and would have been great in Forever Amber).

Had no idea he was up for Captain Blood. I can’t see him in the role (I think Flynn was perfect) but if Paul Henreid and Louis Hayward could do swashbucklers I think WW could have easily done them as well (and maybe even given him a new career path).

Posted By idlemendacity : August 27, 2012 9:12 pm

Warren William always struck me as an American George Sanders, too bad he didn’t have some of the roles Sanders had in the 40s (WW is the spitting image of Charles II for example and would have been great in Forever Amber).

Had no idea he was up for Captain Blood. I can’t see him in the role (I think Flynn was perfect) but if Paul Henreid and Louis Hayward could do swashbucklers I think WW could have easily done them as well (and maybe even given him a new career path).

Posted By muriel : August 27, 2012 10:46 pm

I always watch Warren William movies and whenever he is featured on TCM is a baner day for me. In the 1934 version of “Imitation of Life”, William is a completely sympathetic desirable romantic lead. He could do nice as well as nasty!

Posted By muriel : August 27, 2012 10:46 pm

I always watch Warren William movies and whenever he is featured on TCM is a baner day for me. In the 1934 version of “Imitation of Life”, William is a completely sympathetic desirable romantic lead. He could do nice as well as nasty!

Posted By bill : August 27, 2012 11:53 pm

One more “almost got” role in “39: Sherlock Holmes.

Posted By bill : August 27, 2012 11:53 pm

One more “almost got” role in “39: Sherlock Holmes.

Posted By Lisa W. : August 28, 2012 12:08 am

The sheer number of films to his credit is dizzying! I, too, would love to see a pre-Code set. Let us know if we can find WW on DVD!

Posted By Lisa W. : August 28, 2012 12:08 am

The sheer number of films to his credit is dizzying! I, too, would love to see a pre-Code set. Let us know if we can find WW on DVD!

Posted By Susan Doll : August 28, 2012 12:23 am

I am so pleased there are so many Warren William fans. I didn’t think I would get any comments on this post, but I wanted to bring attention to William’s day on TCM.

I did not know the Captain Blood story till leafed through the bio of him by Strangeland. I can’t see anyone in the role but Flynn, but the story made me feel bad for William.

Posted By Susan Doll : August 28, 2012 12:23 am

I am so pleased there are so many Warren William fans. I didn’t think I would get any comments on this post, but I wanted to bring attention to William’s day on TCM.

I did not know the Captain Blood story till leafed through the bio of him by Strangeland. I can’t see anyone in the role but Flynn, but the story made me feel bad for William.

Posted By Thursday, welcome the king of the cads « Carole & Co. : August 28, 2012 2:15 am

[...] fade. According to a fine essay on William at TCM’s “Movie Morlocks” blog (http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/08/27/warren-william-he-was-an-old-man-even-when-he-was-a-young-man), the turning point was his inability to land the lead role in the 1935 adventure “Captain [...]

Posted By Thursday, welcome the king of the cads « Carole & Co. : August 28, 2012 2:15 am

[...] fade. According to a fine essay on William at TCM’s “Movie Morlocks” blog (http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/08/27/warren-william-he-was-an-old-man-even-when-he-was-a-young-man), the turning point was his inability to land the lead role in the 1935 adventure “Captain [...]

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 7:59 am

As a young, TCM-less film buff, I was completely unaware of William’s talents until the first major wave of pre-code releases arrived on VHS and laserdisc in the mid-’90s, and I was immediately hooked. Skyscraper Souls is a particular favourite, especially with that incredibly bleak ending, one of the best of the period, and Employees Entrance, which is full of great moments that define the essence of pre-code. I wonder why they changed the title and character names for Satan Met a Lady from Hammett’s original? Maybe someone thought it was too soon after the first version of The Maltese Falcon and hoped no one would notice the similarities. One of these days I’ll have to watch the two pre-Bogie versions back-to-back to see how they stack up.

Of course William isn’t the only pre-code actor who’s been popping up a lot lately, it seems every other movie I watch at the moment has C. Henry Gordon (Mata Hari, Penthouse, Night Flight) or Richardo Cortez (a.k.a. Jacob Krantz) in it, and it seems like it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come to enjoy the work of Aline MacMahon (even thought I’d seen her in later titles like The Flame and the Arrow and The Man From Laramie) and Dorothy Mackaill. But few actors seem to define the era like William and his frequent co-star Joan Blondell.

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 7:59 am

As a young, TCM-less film buff, I was completely unaware of William’s talents until the first major wave of pre-code releases arrived on VHS and laserdisc in the mid-’90s, and I was immediately hooked. Skyscraper Souls is a particular favourite, especially with that incredibly bleak ending, one of the best of the period, and Employees Entrance, which is full of great moments that define the essence of pre-code. I wonder why they changed the title and character names for Satan Met a Lady from Hammett’s original? Maybe someone thought it was too soon after the first version of The Maltese Falcon and hoped no one would notice the similarities. One of these days I’ll have to watch the two pre-Bogie versions back-to-back to see how they stack up.

Of course William isn’t the only pre-code actor who’s been popping up a lot lately, it seems every other movie I watch at the moment has C. Henry Gordon (Mata Hari, Penthouse, Night Flight) or Richardo Cortez (a.k.a. Jacob Krantz) in it, and it seems like it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come to enjoy the work of Aline MacMahon (even thought I’d seen her in later titles like The Flame and the Arrow and The Man From Laramie) and Dorothy Mackaill. But few actors seem to define the era like William and his frequent co-star Joan Blondell.

Posted By Links 8.28.12 « Speakeasy : August 28, 2012 8:00 am

[...] TCM’s Classic Movie Blog looks ahead to Thursday’s great star Warren William [...]

Posted By Links 8.28.12 « Speakeasy : August 28, 2012 8:00 am

[...] TCM’s Classic Movie Blog looks ahead to Thursday’s great star Warren William [...]

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 8:07 am

D’oh, that’s Ricardo Cortez, not “Richardo”. Sometimes I wish these comments had an “edit” function…and it looks like I’ve got more Ricardo in my future with Mandalay and The House on 56th Street on my DVR.

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 8:07 am

D’oh, that’s Ricardo Cortez, not “Richardo”. Sometimes I wish these comments had an “edit” function…and it looks like I’ve got more Ricardo in my future with Mandalay and The House on 56th Street on my DVR.

Posted By Doug : August 28, 2012 11:12 am

swac44:”One of these days I’ll have to watch the two pre-Bogie versions back-to-back to see how they stack up.”
“Satan met a lady” is a quote from the book; “Satan” being Spade.
My opinion-the earlier Cortez “Maltese Falcon” played up the ‘pre-code naughtiness’-Thelma Todd taking a bath was pretty daring,the stuff that guys dreams are made of (sorry).
“Satan Met A Lady” shines as a comedy, thanks to Warren William and Bette Davis and a pretty young co-star who was the original Marilyn Monroe ‘type’: Marie Wilson.
I have all three movies in a box set, and, though I don’t watch the 1931 Cortez version much, the other two are great.

Posted By Doug : August 28, 2012 11:12 am

swac44:”One of these days I’ll have to watch the two pre-Bogie versions back-to-back to see how they stack up.”
“Satan met a lady” is a quote from the book; “Satan” being Spade.
My opinion-the earlier Cortez “Maltese Falcon” played up the ‘pre-code naughtiness’-Thelma Todd taking a bath was pretty daring,the stuff that guys dreams are made of (sorry).
“Satan Met A Lady” shines as a comedy, thanks to Warren William and Bette Davis and a pretty young co-star who was the original Marilyn Monroe ‘type’: Marie Wilson.
I have all three movies in a box set, and, though I don’t watch the 1931 Cortez version much, the other two are great.

Posted By Jenni : August 28, 2012 1:50 pm

I tivoed Man in the Iron Mask and was delighted to see Warren William in it as D’Artagnon! It was a secondary role, but integral to the plot and he did a great job in it, even managing to steal the wedding scene at the film’s end. Great post!

Posted By Jenni : August 28, 2012 1:50 pm

I tivoed Man in the Iron Mask and was delighted to see Warren William in it as D’Artagnon! It was a secondary role, but integral to the plot and he did a great job in it, even managing to steal the wedding scene at the film’s end. Great post!

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 4:34 pm

I’ve got the deluxe Maltese Falcon set with all of the versions, so my only excuse for not watching them before now is time I guess; I’m always more eager to watch what’s on my DVR (and clear space for more) before I get around to stuff I’ve actually bought and paid for. Didn’t know Marie Wilson was in Satan Met a Lady though, I think she’s adorable in the two My Friend Irma films with Martin & Lewis, another added incentive to finally watch these Falcon movies!

Posted By swac44 : August 28, 2012 4:34 pm

I’ve got the deluxe Maltese Falcon set with all of the versions, so my only excuse for not watching them before now is time I guess; I’m always more eager to watch what’s on my DVR (and clear space for more) before I get around to stuff I’ve actually bought and paid for. Didn’t know Marie Wilson was in Satan Met a Lady though, I think she’s adorable in the two My Friend Irma films with Martin & Lewis, another added incentive to finally watch these Falcon movies!

Posted By Tild Dallelie (@tildology) : August 28, 2012 6:03 pm

I second the recommendation for Man In the Iron Mask. WW is wonderful in it; he is just what you want d’Artagnan to be: dashing and heroic and noble and athletically leaping around and every so often throwing his head back and laughing heartily (think Robin and his Merrie Men in the Adventures of Robin Hood).

…Which makes me think, as much as I love Errol Flynn, WW could have been great in Captain Blood!

I am so excited; Warren William day on TCM is August 30th, which also happens to be my birthday. What a delightful birthday present!

Thanks for the great post! :)

Posted By Tild Dallelie (@tildology) : August 28, 2012 6:03 pm

I second the recommendation for Man In the Iron Mask. WW is wonderful in it; he is just what you want d’Artagnan to be: dashing and heroic and noble and athletically leaping around and every so often throwing his head back and laughing heartily (think Robin and his Merrie Men in the Adventures of Robin Hood).

…Which makes me think, as much as I love Errol Flynn, WW could have been great in Captain Blood!

I am so excited; Warren William day on TCM is August 30th, which also happens to be my birthday. What a delightful birthday present!

Thanks for the great post! :)

Posted By vp19 : August 28, 2012 10:06 pm

I’m not sure how my “Carole & Co.” entry “Thursday, welcome the king of the cads” found its way into the responses — I’ve never created that sentient an entry before — but for those who would like to read it, go to http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/538419.html

Posted By vp19 : August 28, 2012 10:06 pm

I’m not sure how my “Carole & Co.” entry “Thursday, welcome the king of the cads” found its way into the responses — I’ve never created that sentient an entry before — but for those who would like to read it, go to http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/538419.html

Posted By Pamela Porter : August 30, 2012 10:12 am

I love Warren William. If I were suddenly a 1930s ingenue, I wouldn’t let Adolphe Menjou near me with a 20 foot pole. Squicky patent leather hair and spats (shudder).

But Warren William is another story altogether.

Posted By Pamela Porter : August 30, 2012 10:12 am

I love Warren William. If I were suddenly a 1930s ingenue, I wouldn’t let Adolphe Menjou near me with a 20 foot pole. Squicky patent leather hair and spats (shudder).

But Warren William is another story altogether.

Posted By diane : August 30, 2012 6:27 pm

Just loved reading your blog about Warren William who is
now getting the attention he deserves. When I started to
like him many years ago, it was a case of Warren Who??
I do like “Skyscraper Souls” which is just a terrific
movie and also “The Mouthpiece”. Another film I like,
which is not a pre-code but shows that W.W. was
still “strutting his stuff” as they say, in the 1940s is
“Strange Illusion” (1945). It is all about a young man’s
dreams about someone up to no good (W.W.). Sally Eilers
is in it too. Very recommended.

Posted By diane : August 30, 2012 6:27 pm

Just loved reading your blog about Warren William who is
now getting the attention he deserves. When I started to
like him many years ago, it was a case of Warren Who??
I do like “Skyscraper Souls” which is just a terrific
movie and also “The Mouthpiece”. Another film I like,
which is not a pre-code but shows that W.W. was
still “strutting his stuff” as they say, in the 1940s is
“Strange Illusion” (1945). It is all about a young man’s
dreams about someone up to no good (W.W.). Sally Eilers
is in it too. Very recommended.

Posted By HAB : August 30, 2012 7:13 pm

Great day on TCM & for Warren William fans. One correction though Susan. Veeree Teasdale played the secretary in Skyscraper Souls & O’Sullivan was her young assistant that he takes up with.

Posted By HAB : August 30, 2012 7:13 pm

Great day on TCM & for Warren William fans. One correction though Susan. Veeree Teasdale played the secretary in Skyscraper Souls & O’Sullivan was her young assistant that he takes up with.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : August 31, 2012 11:10 am

I really enjoyed the Warren William films TCM showed yesterday. Growing up, I knew him as “that guy in The Wolf Man but I’d be happy to see him in other things as the years went on and my appreciation for him grew. Thanks for the write-up, Susan!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : August 31, 2012 11:10 am

I really enjoyed the Warren William films TCM showed yesterday. Growing up, I knew him as “that guy in The Wolf Man but I’d be happy to see him in other things as the years went on and my appreciation for him grew. Thanks for the write-up, Susan!

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of August 31 | Parallax View : August 31, 2012 1:12 pm

[...] heels whose polished appearance and smooth tones masked a cold heart or ruthless agenda.” The Movie Morlock’s Susan Doll praises Warren William, with emphasis on the pre-codes that let his nastiness [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of August 31 | Parallax View : August 31, 2012 1:12 pm

[...] heels whose polished appearance and smooth tones masked a cold heart or ruthless agenda.” The Movie Morlock’s Susan Doll praises Warren William, with emphasis on the pre-codes that let his nastiness [...]

Posted By Susan Doll : August 31, 2012 8:40 pm

I am so pleased at the response for William. I thought a couple of people might comment for this post, but I didn’t realize that he still has so many fans. Yay!

Posted By Susan Doll : August 31, 2012 8:40 pm

I am so pleased at the response for William. I thought a couple of people might comment for this post, but I didn’t realize that he still has so many fans. Yay!

Posted By Elizabeth : September 1, 2012 6:57 am

I have loved classic movies for years. I was astounded not to know of Warren Williams. What a fine actor. He would have been every bit the swashbuckler that Errol Flynn was. No doubt about it. Does anyone know if he was married or had children? He was so dashing!

Posted By Elizabeth : September 1, 2012 6:57 am

I have loved classic movies for years. I was astounded not to know of Warren Williams. What a fine actor. He would have been every bit the swashbuckler that Errol Flynn was. No doubt about it. Does anyone know if he was married or had children? He was so dashing!

Posted By swac44 : September 1, 2012 7:50 am

Looks like I’ve got more Warren William on the way this morning as I finally get around to watching Kay Francis’s Dr. Monica on ye olde DVR. I should start keeping a checklist.

Posted By swac44 : September 1, 2012 7:50 am

Looks like I’ve got more Warren William on the way this morning as I finally get around to watching Kay Francis’s Dr. Monica on ye olde DVR. I should start keeping a checklist.

Posted By swac44 : September 1, 2012 12:49 pm

Enjoyed Dr. Monica, a solid pre-code weepie with unwed mothers and William as the cad that Francis loves despite her better judgement, although he’s more like a cad-lite and all is well by the end. I think this is the first time I’d seen him in something without his moustache, and clean-shaven he bears a striking resemblance to Christopher Plummer!

Posted By swac44 : September 1, 2012 12:49 pm

Enjoyed Dr. Monica, a solid pre-code weepie with unwed mothers and William as the cad that Francis loves despite her better judgement, although he’s more like a cad-lite and all is well by the end. I think this is the first time I’d seen him in something without his moustache, and clean-shaven he bears a striking resemblance to Christopher Plummer!

Posted By diane : September 2, 2012 5:08 pm

for Elizabeth – yes, he was married to Helen Nelson
from 1923 to 1948 (his death) (according to Wikipedia).
Another of his movies I like is “The Case of the Lucky
Legs” (1935). I bought it for Peggy Shannon but really
thought W.W. was a super Perry Mason. He played him for
laughs, as a happy drunk, and you really saw a fun side
to him as his very efficient Della Street (Genevieve Tobin
had some great lines) tried to keep him in line.

Posted By diane : September 2, 2012 5:08 pm

for Elizabeth – yes, he was married to Helen Nelson
from 1923 to 1948 (his death) (according to Wikipedia).
Another of his movies I like is “The Case of the Lucky
Legs” (1935). I bought it for Peggy Shannon but really
thought W.W. was a super Perry Mason. He played him for
laughs, as a happy drunk, and you really saw a fun side
to him as his very efficient Della Street (Genevieve Tobin
had some great lines) tried to keep him in line.

Posted By Arthur : September 5, 2012 11:46 am

Thanks for the info on William. I am enjoying his pre-Code films on TCM. He is very, very good as are so many pre-Code films I had never seen before. In one of them I thought he was Barrymore, similar persona. In fact Skyscraper Souls is reminiscent of Barrymore’s Counselor at Law. BTW didn’t William star as Julius Caesar in Claudette Colbert’s Cleopatra?

Posted By Arthur : September 5, 2012 11:46 am

Thanks for the info on William. I am enjoying his pre-Code films on TCM. He is very, very good as are so many pre-Code films I had never seen before. In one of them I thought he was Barrymore, similar persona. In fact Skyscraper Souls is reminiscent of Barrymore’s Counselor at Law. BTW didn’t William star as Julius Caesar in Claudette Colbert’s Cleopatra?

Posted By Susan Doll : September 5, 2012 8:58 pm

Arthur: You are right; he was Julius Caesar in CLEO. Not my favorite version of that story as Colbert is not that good in it.

Posted By Susan Doll : September 5, 2012 8:58 pm

Arthur: You are right; he was Julius Caesar in CLEO. Not my favorite version of that story as Colbert is not that good in it.

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