The 4-disc set contains the four films listed below and adds to the total of over 1,200 Warner Archive titles exclusively available for rent at ClassicFlix.com.
Between his matinee idol silent Paramount era and his grand gent days at MGM, William Powell enjoyed a 9-film interregnum on the gritty streets of the Warner Bros. lot. As the studio struggled with how to fit the suave thespian in amongst its assortment of rough-hewn character mooks and mugs, Powell himself struggled to find vehicles that would best show off his strengths. What emerged is a series of seldom-seen gems that display a truly titanic talent in its nascent stages.
The Road to Singapore (1931)
Powell plays the cad who came back in this tale of torpid torment and tempestuous passions in the tropics. Doris Kenyon plays the object of his attention while Louis Calhern plays the cuckold. Alfred E. Green (Baby Face) directs.
High Pressure (1932)
Mervyn LeRoy directs Powell as a scurrilous stock promoter cursed with the Achilles’ heel of actually buying into the hokum he’s peddling. A riotous, sly delight peppered with clever characters and quick wits.
Private Detective 62 (1933)
Powell plays a disgraced and disavowed secret agent who turns to divorce work to keep his kitchen from getting lean. Bankrolled by a hood and partnered with a fink, he gets tasked with getting the goods on a gambling lady. But in this game of cards it’s the lady who has the best hand. The indispensable Michael Curtiz directs.
The Key (1934)
Both sides of the Irish uprising — “the Irish problem” for the British, “the troubles” for the natives of Eire — bookends this tale of a romantic triangle among the occupying forces. Powell plays a cynical seducer soldier-of-fortune, Edna Best is the lass he left behind, and Colin Clive is the intel officer who courted and kept her. Michael Curtiz directs with a sympathetic eye to both sides.