Friday, February 24, 2012

Warren William, Marion Marsh, William Powell and the DESK!

I must assume anyone who's been following this blog knows by now that I am on a full-blown Warren William kick! In the last 2 months I've watched over 20 of his films, most of them I had never seen before! I must also assume that at least a few of you know I have been developing a major obsession with all things Art Deco as well! As a consequence I am more and more keying into the set design and art direction of films from the 20's and 30's, especially the absolutely stunning work of Anton Grot over at Warner Bros. Well, during a recent revisit of the hilarious Warren William/Marion Marsh film "Beauty and the Boss" (1932), I was totally blown away by William's amazing Art Deco office, but especially of his DESK!!!

So a while back I was watching "High Pressure" (1932) with the most awesome William Powell and what do I see, but that magnificent Desk again! This time with a lovely stylized female nude in the front center area and what looks like decorative metal along all the rounded edges not just the top. We can also see much of the same set was used for both films.

Then last week I am revisiting another excellent Warren William/Marion Marsh picture "Under Eighteen" (1931) that I saw only once several years ago, and lo and behold my beloved desk is there again!!! Isnt it lovely? And I imagine it was quite sturdy and lots of fun to try to move around!

Meanwhile I have been on the lookout at ebay for Warren William memorabilia and wouldnt ya know it, I find up for auction a Lobby Card for "Beauty and the Boss" that features both stars AND the DESK!!! Talk about positive Juju!! Well, I figured this being pre-code and all I would have to shell out some bucks for it but to my most wonderful surprise I was the only bidder!
This lovely card now resides in my first piece of Warren William memorabilia woo hoo!!!!! I now have a strong sudden urge to ruthlessly take over a corporation, manipulate the stock market, have an affair with a showgirl, seduce an innocent young clothing store model, lie, cheat, steal and even murder, all while wearing a bejeweled turban and shouting "SMASH OR BE SMASHED!!!!!
Good times! Good times!
I also have a huge future project in my build a replica of that incredible desk! I have NO idea how its put together, what materials were used and what color and type of finish it had....mere trivialties that should only take a decade or so to unravel the mysteries of....


Cliff Aliperti said...

Nice catch!

I envy you having caught 20 Warren William flicks you'd never seen before! What have been your favorites? I always just assume it's going to be the pre-codes but over time running the Warren William site I've seen more people that I've expected answer the detective movies and some even prefer his few big budget movies where he's suave but not very nasty at all. (I expect that last group hasn't yet had pre-code exposure!)

By the way, I was watching that lobby card and very nearly went after it--it's gorgeous, congratulations on landing it! I try to limit my WW collection to nothing larger than still photos ... there are exceptions though and this was honestly one of the more beautiful items I've ever seen pop up in my searches. Great price too ;)

Artman2112 said...

Hi Cliff! - you assume correctly, yup its the pre-code stuff! tho i dearly enjoyed all of his Lone Wolf series (only 2 left to see) and thought he was very effective in "Imitation of Life" (which i saw for the first time the other night) my heart will always belong to Warner Bros and the films he made there in the early 30's are truly splendid examples of pre-code debauchery as well as great showcases for his ability and onscreen personality! very hard to nail down an absolute fave but "Employees Entrance", "The Match King", "The Mind Reader" and the 2 mentioned in this post immediately come to mind! And i gotta say "Satan met a Lady" and "Smarty" are a riotously good time tho I wouldnt really call either of them 'good' films by any stretch! I still have 4 more films of his sitting here waiting to view that are new to me but its all later stuff. "Bedside" is one i really want to see so I hope it plays sometime soon, that is, if it has ever played at all.
maybe you'll find this funny but while watching "Imitation of Life" i was totally convinced he was gonna make a play for the daughter simply because THAT is usually the kind of guy he would play haha! when the film was done i realized the uniqueness of having a black female character written and played with such beauty and dignity wasnt as surprising to me as the fact that William played a decent guy!

and i will at this time thank you very much for NOT bidding on that card Cliff, trust me you woulda had to shell out to beat me cuz I really wanted to win that auction hahahah!
and thanks for your comment! i have browsed your site in the past but really need to spend a bit more time there. i think its awesome that you're putting the spotlight on Mr William, he really deserves much more recognition than he currently gets, but I think his time will come!

Cliff Aliperti said...

Hey again--while you were composing that comment I just did a post on my Warren site pointing over here (couldn't resist).

Bedside is nowhere near as good as the ones you mention but it might be my favorite of them all because it is as seedy as he gets. It might be as seedy as anyone gets!

I grabbed my copy of it off of iOffer a few years back. That seller disappeared but I have noticed (and used) a few sellers offering rare titles on DVD-R there recently so it might be worth a look and perhaps an e-mail.

Funny, I just rewatched Imitation of Life this week too (it might be my next post, that or Gold Diggers) and I still get that feeling about him and Rochelle Hudson too! It's kind of like, uh oh, Claudette, you didn't know what you were in for, here he goes ... but no.

I honestly expected the lobby card to pass--stupid since it had a great minimum--and be offered up again later, so I got lazy on that one. I hope the original seller doesn't see this because between what we're both saying here he might have wound up making a lot more on it!

Actually, I think his time is here. When I started the site it seemed like the only info on him was the sparse bits on Wikipedia and IMDb. Now I see Warren posts all over! John Stangeland's excellent book had a lot to do with raising awareness. TCM finally gave Warren a mini-birthday bash (early pre-codes) in 2011 but hopefully they do more--they've been airing the big titles lately but the second half of his pre-code catalog hasn't been shown in a long while--crossing fingers for 24 hours with a Summer Under the Stars day this year! (Anticipating disappointment!)

Artman2112 said...

i posted a thank you at your site but will say it again here - THANKS!
haha you have certainly peeked my interest in "Bedside" even more! no one can play seedy like WW could! Tho Zachary Scott certainly carried on the tradition, but in his own style of course.

speaking of Zachary Scot, Imitation of Life, for me, seemed headed straight for Mildred Pierce territory, but i'm glad it didnt! it just goes to show how much we identify WW with his "amoral scoundrel" persona! he was so damn good at it that its easy to forget he was an actor and played other kinds of men!

you may be right about it being his time now and i'll certainly do what i can here to spread the word! i will list 2 more films i saw recently for the first time that belong with the others i mentioned and they are "The Dark Horse" and "The Mouthpiece", very enjoyable pictures and great showcases for WW!
with the political circus heating up in a big way "The Dark Horse" sure struck a chord!

Cliff Aliperti said...

David Landau is great in Bedside too as a total junkie Warren buys his medical diploma from. Donald Meek is also pretty wild (though typically meek) as, I'll call him the Dr. Frankenstein of the guinea pigs here. Wild movie!

I covered The Dark Horse recently and I'm glad I saved it. Originally I was a bit let down watching it right after Skyscraper Souls and Employees Entrance, but those are very high standards. It's moved way up my list after my most recent viewing.

As for The Mouthpiece, that may have been the first movie I wrote about on the Warren site. It's a key, key movie as it's the one that made him a top rank star with Warner's for that brief time. One of his best for sure along with the other two named in the paragraph above.

KC said...

I don't think I would ever be observant enough to catch this. I do realize you have an interest in the subject though. It's funny, I love drooling over art deco in movies as well, and the one piece that stands out in my memory is also a desk. It's the one Kay Francis sat at to write a check in "Trouble in Paradise".

Artman2112 said...

Cliff - haha yes David Landau, one of WB reliable stable of dirtbags along with Dudley Diggs, Gordon Westcott and many others!

the Mouthpiece blew me away, WW is totally great in that! interesting for me as I had seen the remake with George Brent "The Man Who Talked Too Much" many years ago and re-watched it recently - i really like that film, but Brent sure as hell aint no WW!

KC - I have that Kay Fwancis (sorry i just HAVE to do that!) film here but have yet to watch it! i am gonna put it in my pile of 'films to view soon' cuz you hve me curious about that desk!

thank you both for your comments!

Raquelle said...

That desk is so incredibly beautiful. I just love Art Deco. I really wish it would come back in style. My dream would be to have a house filled with Art Deco furniture and decor and an Art Deco pool.

Nice catch Paul!

Artman2112 said...

thanks Quelle! other than the pool you and i have the same dream! i recently got a book called "Inside Art Deco" and the last chapter showed many examples of Art Deco styling in contemporary buildings so its definitely coming back in many ways, but for sure it will never be the like it was during its hey day.

Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

You need to tell me when you finish building your desk so I can come over and roll around on it. LOL

Warren William is THE BEST. Nice catch Paul! :)

Artman2112 said...

Jennifer you really have left yourself wide open for any number of lude replies from me but i'll be good, THIS time!

KC said...

I was just watching "Beauty and the Boss" and saw what I thought was the famous "the desk". Came to your site to check and sure enough! It's so funny how much that gorgeous thing was used in the movies.