First, let me just say that I think we owe Erle Stanley Gardner a big thank you for the 52 Perry Mason books he wrote between 1933 and 1973.
Those books, about lawyer Perry Mason’s cases, have been stretched and pulled into over 271 TV episodes from 1957-1966, over 100 hundred more movies and TV episodes in the 1970s, 80s and 90s and now, another Perry Mason series in 2020 on HBO, currently running on Sunday nights at 9 p.m.
I’m addicted to all of them (except the HBO series but only because I haven’t seen it yet. Fingers crossed!). I love Perry Mason.
I admit, it’s the Raymond Burr Perry Mason episodes from the 50s and 60s that I love the most. But, these first four movies from the 1930s starring Warren William are a close second. They’re all short and satisfying with engaging plots and an attractive chemistry between Warren William…..and most of the other actors on screen. These movies are fun.
Warren William Krech was born December 2, 1894 in Aikin, Minnesota. His career started in the theater before he ended up in silent movies. He made three of those before taking on the new “talkies.” Warren William was a leading man in the pre-code days of Hollywood, and wound up as Perry Mason from 1934-36 for Warner Brothers. He’s a terrific Perry – suave, smart and he has a subdued kind of confidence that fits Perry’s persona perfectly. I wish there were more Warren William Perry Mason movies.
Mr. William passed away on September 24, 1948 in Hollywood from multiple Myeloma.
Warner Brothers did six Perry Mason movies. Warren William starred in the first four:
The Case of the Howling Dog, 1934
The Case of the Howling Dog was directed by Alan Crosland and written by Ben Markson. This is the first movie in the Warner Brothers Perry Mason series.
The howling of the dog means a death has occurred…according to millionaire Arthur Cartright (Gordon Westcott) anyway. He insists that Perry help him draw up his will in response. Yeah. It gets complicated, but it’s an engaging plot from start to finish. Bonus! Mary Astor plays a significant role here as Bessie Foley.
The Case of the Curious Bride, 1935
The Case of the Curious Bride was directed by Michael Curtiz (director of Casablanca, 1942) and written by Tom Reed.
Perry’s ex-girlfriend comes to him for help when she learns that her first husband is still alive. That’s a problem because she remarried after she thought he was dead. Perry goes to talk to the first husband about it, but finds that now he really is dead. Murder AND Bigamy. In just 80 minutes, they resolve the whole thing. Due in part to the introduction of Spudsy Drake (Allen Jenkins) to the mix no doubt.
The Case of the Lucky Legs, 1935
Do you see that on the poster? “1935’s Thin Man” ??? Let’s not get crazy here Warner Brothers…..
As the owner of the Mrs. Charles blog that’s named after Nora Charles of The Thin Man movies, I object! Get Perry Mason on the line, dammit!
The Case of the Lucky Legs was directed by Archie Mayo and written by Brown Holmes and Ben Markson.
No, it is NOT 1935’s Thin Man. Not even close. But it tries. And that makes it tiring for me.
The Case of the Lucky Legs involves a murder of the con man who promotes the Lucky Legs contest. This guy always leaves town before paying the prize money to the winner of his contests. He does it again here. But, in this case he winds up dead. Seems someone has stabbed him with a surgeon’s scalpel. No worries, Perry and Spudsy Drake are on it.
By now, I’m missing the courtroom drama I’m so used to (and love) in the 50s and 60s TV show. There’s hardly any courtroom scenes here, BUT, the banter is entertaining and smart…
…but NOT The Thin Man. There is only one Thin Man. Ugh.
The Case of the Velvet Claws, 1936
Directed by William Clemens and written by Tom Reed, The Case of the Velvet Claws is Warren William’s final Perry Mason movie before moving on to early movies in The Lone Wolf series of at MGM. Perry and Della get married in this one! Of course the honeymoon was, um, postponed by a murder.
You got it, Perry and Spudsy Drake (Eddie Acuff this time) will get this taken care of over the course of 63 minutes. It’s amazing.
WarrenWilliam.com – A wonderful, comprehensive website devoted to Warren William.
Perry Mason on HBO in 2020