I recently picked up a copy of the 1933 Film Daily Yearbook for some non-Warren William research, but of course my first pass through I paid special attention for anything I spotted from that banner year for William covered inside, 1932. The best thing I found was this ad, which didn’t reproduce as well as I would have liked but is legible all the same. It’s actually the facing page of a two-page ad with page one including a bunch of industry quotes about how great Warner’s has been in the recent past. This page put the emphasis on 16 pictures–in this case photos of their 16 most important stars heading into 1933:
Top to bottom, left to right, just in case you can’t see it well enough: James Cagney, Ruth Chatterton, George Arliss, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, Joe E. Brown, William Powell, Richard Barthelmess, Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, Kay Francis, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Warren William, Bebe Daniels, Bette Davis, Joan Blondell.
Now that’s a roster!
I was disappointed in the overall lack of appreciation for Warren William’s work in this a year which covered some of his best releases: The Woman From Monte Carlo, Under Eighteen, The Mouthpiece, Beauty and the Boss, The Dark Horse, Skyscraper Souls, Three on a Match, The Match King. Wow!
Some of the areas where William goes under or unrecognized:
Photoplay’s 1932 Best Individual Performances: Tops of this list were John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Walter Huston, Fredric March and Robert Montgomery, who were all mentioned four times each. Warren William isn’t even mentioned twice! He only gains mention in August for The Dark Horse, as does Guy Kibbee.
Not surprisingly his work is ignored in Film Daily’s 11th “Ten Best” ballot which polled 368 movie critics and editors throughout the nation on the best releases from November 1, 1931 through October 31, 1932. To give an idea of the number of votes the biggest pictures get the top three were 1) Grand Hotel – 296 votes, 2) The Champ – 214 votes, 3) Arrowsmith – 192 votes.
They do include an Honor Roll accounting all pictures which received 10 or more votes. Again only one of Warren’s films gets mentioned, this time The Mouthpiece, which tallied all of 13 votes. It does make me feel a little better that some classics also scored low: Frankenstein 28, Tarzan 26, Horse Feathers 19, Red Headed Woman 18, and One Way Passage tied at 13 with The Mouthpiece.
Even though I didn’t pick up this book for Warren William I’m tempted to seek out the following year’s edition now just to see if he fared better. After all, we think of this era as his zenith, yet it looks like he’s having a hard time getting out of the gates. I don’t expect The Match King to rate anywhere near Grand Hotel, but I figured it’d rate. At least Warner Brothers is impressed enough to include him with their top 16 moving forward.
This leads my mind to wonder how the typical Warren William pre-code film played in the big city vs. small town America. Since each critic is allotted the same vote the cites are well outnumbered, does his low showing in 1932 mean that small town folks weren’t accepting of his typical city slicker crooks and con men? I’d imagine that’s very possible but completely allow for the fact that I’m probably jumping to conclusions. Your thoughts?