A Weekend Without Warren William

I guess we’ve finished with Warren William in our Friday Watch Party, though we have one LONE WOLF film saved up for a rainy day. We went out in style with LADY FOR A DAY, which was interesting to compare with its remake, POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES — it is, of course, superior in about every way, though the later work looks handsome enough. All the padding Capra added just increases the plot’s main problem, the lack of anything for Apple Annie (May Robson/Bette Davis) to do once she becomes the recipient of largesse.

The climax does solve this nicely, but the moment when AA decides to come clean startles us into realizing how passive/absent she’s been for so long.

Warren William, of course, is a zillion times better than Glenn Ford as Dave the Dude, but it’s perhaps more surprising that Robson defeats Davis in every respect. Hard to put one’s finger on why, but if there was a casting call and they both auditioned, the choice would be obvious.

Peter Falk, the best thing in POCKETFUL, is likewise beaten by Ned Sparks at his Ned Sparksiest, honking every line like a sardonic sealion, but with the outward appearance of a human halberd.

Also: Glenda Farrell’s chestydance!

7 Responses to “A Weekend Without Warren William”

  1. chris schneider Says:

    Vive la chestydance! Love her, too, in MAN’S CASTLE.

  2. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Though Glenn Ford’s best days were clearly behind him 60’s Hollywood continued to regard him as a viable leading man, thus replacing Warren William here and (gasp) Rudolph Valentino in Minnelli’s insane remake of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

    “Pocketful” lacks Glenda Farrell but it does have the about-to-be-fully-launched Ann-Margaret who is lovely.

    And while I do enjoy Ned Sparks, Peter Falk is one of the cinema’s greatest eccentric actors. Elaine May’s masterpiece “Mikey and Nicky” is just out on Blu-Ray. I’ve also been enjoying “Columbo” repeats on cable. Costume director Vincent Dee told me it took Falk two days to find the raincoat he wanted for that character. I had the exquisite pleasure of interviewing Falk at his home here in L.A. when “Wings of Desire” came out. Indelible.

  3. Of course Wings of Desire features the lengthy search for a hat, which was inspired by reality. “I’m not sure if we’ve found the hat,” said Wenders, “but we may have a scene.”

    Horses for courses: Pocketful is a shambling shaggy dog, Lady is a tight little comedy-drama. So the rambling Falk is ideal for one, the one-trick Sparks for the other.

  4. So that was sufficient for me to finally work out what the phrase “horses for courses” means. Thank you.

    I’d say my Thing for Peter Falk is really the equal of my Thing for Conrad Veidt — an odd couple, surely. Although there was so much more to the former’s career, I have long recommended keeping a Columbo boxed set in a “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” case. In the Bay Area the emergency is now — what with wildfire smoke reinforcing the corona lockdown. I just stepped out to go for a walk — but the wind had shifted, the fog-like haze had returned, so nope. Columbo.

  5. Oh, Columbo’s great, and Falk is great.

    I’m fascinated by proto-Columbos like Jouvet in Quai des Orfevres and Ltnt Kinderman in The Exorcist (changed between book and film to make him less raincoaty and vague, since the TV show had started in the meantime). Quai even has a Columbo episode structure.

  6. This really was quite marvellous and it was the casting of all the character and bit parts that made it.

  7. Capra had a genius for that, didn’t he? — every film is just crowded with character types, usually acting their heads off.

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