The list that follows is based purely on my own tastes and opinions. I thought to create because we always seem to refer to a handful of key Warren William titles over here, so why not make that list a little more official. The movies that follow aren’t even necessarily my own particular Warren William favorites (okay, many are), but hey, that can be a future post. The purpose is to rank the top 10 movies I would recommend, in order, to somebody brand new to the phenomena that is Warren William.
Mind you, most of these movies can’t be found very easily. Very few have had any sort of official DVD release–most won’t–and most of my own copies are just that, DVD-R’s acquired collector to collector through a few years of hunting.
I expect disagreement but hopefully that just leads to more lists in the comments section. And by all means, 10 is a completely arbitrary number, if you want to post your Top 5, Top 3 or even just your #1 recommendation that you think would sell Warren William to a friend or acquaintance then please go ahead, post it.
Here we go, my Top 10 Warren William starter films with commentary below the list:
2. Employees Entrance (1933)
3. The Mouthpiece (1932)
4. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
5. The Match King (1932)
6. Bedside (1934)
7. The Mind Reader (1933)
8. The Case of the Howling Dog (1934)
9. The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (1940)
10. Lady for a Day (1933)
I actually prefer Employee’s Entrance to Skyscraper Souls by a pretty good margin now, but that’s the order they were released and that’s the order I came to them and since they’re the tandem which initially sold me on Warren William that’s the way I’d recommend them. They may as well be 1a and 1b. Now those top 2 did each have a VHS release and so I think they’re probably a couple of the more likely films our budding Warren William buff would have seen already. If they have cross them off and make #3 the new #1.
The Mouthpiece was released before everything else on this list and is Warren William’s breakthrough role. It’d be a great starting point itself, but as I said above, I can’t quibble with my own introduction and so The Mouthpiece is #3.
Gold Diggers isn’t #4 so much for it’s Warren Williamness, but as a fun mainstream release which the newbie should likely view at this point just to realize WW isn’t all work, but some play too. Plus they can pick up the DVD right on Amazon or at any other retailer. The Match King is a little uneven, but still excellent in almost every other regard, excepting perhaps Lili Damita, and a good way to prepare our viewer for the shock of what’s to come.
I hesitate to put Bedside and The Mind Reader back to back as it may just be too much for our friend to handle. Then again we’ve eased them in up to this point and this is Warren William after all–if they’re gonna get it then this double-feature may be their favorite stop which totally sends them over the edge looking for more.
Next we introduce them to Perry Mason and we start at the beginning even though I prefer The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935) myself. They’re likely going to skip the rest of the list for now and watch the other 3 WW-Mason films anyway, so why not start them out right.
What I just said about Mason, well forget it for The Lone Wolf. Okay, okay, I’m breaking my own rule for The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date, it’s my favorite of the Lone Wolf movies, the one set in Cuba where Lanyard’s carrying around his stamp collection, but I have a better reason than that. The first Lone Wolf movie starring WW, The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939) is missing the real Jameson, Eric Blore. The second title, The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940) has Jameson but Thurston Hall’s Inspector Crane is missing. All the ingredients are together by the third entry, The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940), but frankly we’ve gone this far into the series so why shouldn’t I pop in the DVD of my favorite for my friend here? Also it’s a particularly fun and hammy performance by Warren William, if they’re enjoying his portrayals so far they’ll get a kick out of this one.
The last choice was my toughest choice. I was tempted to put Outcast (1937) there because Lady for a Day is one of those classics despite Warren William. That said, he does have a large presence in what is really May Robson’s movie, the film is easily obtainable and as good as it’s reputation. It’s perhaps Warren William’s best known role where he comes as close the other pre-code leads on this list. Of course if our pal is already a general fan of classic movies then they’ve already seen this one long ago, either reintroduce it to them from the WW-perspective or pop in Outcast instead.
What do you think? Did I screw up? I purposely left titles like Three on a Match (1932) and Cleopatra (1934) off the list because I don’t think of them as primarily Warren William films. Still, I understand if they make your list. So what would you recommend?