Well, he ought to be, right?
I saved $35.00 for now and DVR’ed all of the great pre-code stuff on TCM last night including the documentary “Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin, and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood,” which I watched tonight. The documentary is available as part of the new DVD collection released today, TCM Archives – Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2 — while there’s definitely some cool stuff in this collection, especially satisfying for the Norma Shearer fan, there’s shamefully only one flick featuring Warren William, and that’s “Three on a Match,” where he’s more or less background noise to Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, and especially Ann Dvorak, whose performance here is as powerful as you’ve ever heard anybody proclaim it to be.
The documentary ran about 70 minutes or so and was pretty good. I’d seen most of the movies mentioned there (one notable exception being “Beast of the City” (1931), which I’m going to try and hunt down tonight!), but nonetheless enjoyed this well-organized collection of clips with comments from the usual group of critics and film pros. At the start I said to myself, well, Warren William should get mention in this, but judging how TCM has more or less ignored him in the first two volumes of their Forbidden Hollywood DVD’s I wasn’t really holding out that much hope. (This is certainly not meant as a general criticism of TCM though, as they are the only place in town to catch anything he’s appeared in outside of “The Wolfman!”)
But he made the cut, and it wasn’t easy in a documentary dominated mostly by the popular pre-code themes of violence and sex, with little focus on the stars, excepting Shearer and Jean Harlow. Towards the end though, during the topic of sex and money, Warren William grabbed mention, had a couple of clips shown (“Skyscraper Souls” and “Employees’ Entrance,” the two old VHS standards from the Leonard Maltin series of pre-coders), and even grabbed some comment, most memorably from John Landis, who always seems to dominate these documentaries. Nobody elicits as much pure joy from talking about film as Landis. Anyway, it was about two minutes in the spotlight before being passed over for the next subject, but in the end it was as much as and frankly more than I had expected.
Perhaps “Skyscraper Souls” and “Employees’ Entrance” can be resurected for Volume 3 of the collection. That’d be pretty neat, Volume 2 could be thought of as the Shearer collection, perhaps a Volume 3 with those two gems could be the William collection. Certainly a double-feature like that in a set which would certainly sell well could be Warren William’s best bet to break out beyond the fringe. It’d be a little more in your face than one of the more obscure flicks showing up on TCM at five in the morning at least!