Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Dick Powell for TCMs Star of the Month


Recommended Posts

I would love for TCM to feature the wonderful vastly talented actor, singer, film producer and director Dick Powell (November 14th, 1904 ? January 2nd, 1963) as their SOTM because there was so many awe-inspiring classics that he did; Powell was such a talent on screen especially in regards to the musicals that he did. But to be quite honest the films that I've deeply enjoyed him in were film noirs because he was immensely underrated and that he wasn't able to gain that cinematic recognition he so rightly deserved; thankfully so many fans here continue to praise and appreciate Dick Powell and his classic film legacy. The versatility that he showcased in regards to going from leading man in the musicals to the dark gritty world of film noir is something that I feel should be noted & respected for because I'm sure that it wasn't easy; I found out that during those times when certain actors wanted to challenge themselves by not being typecast in roles which they feel didn't add much picturesque punch, some studios and directors felt that they wouldn't fit the more challenging roles in which they vied for and that if they were cast in the film, the end result would be a flop...thank goodness that wasn't the case where Powell was concerned. I remembered viewing him in Murder My Sweet on TCM and Ben Mankiewicz stated that at first the director Edward Dmytryk didn't feel that Powell would fit the bill of playing the hard boiled detective Phillip Marlowe, but in the end it was a good thing he did; after that they made another picture together called Cornered and the two individuals not only respected each other individually but professionally as well (it's amazing to know that those classic film stars truly appreciated the other individual's craft and artistry). I've become a huge fan of Dick Powell awhile back and I'm sure that there are countless others also; I do hope that in the near future TCM would devote their STOM programming to Dick Powell because he deserves that recognition as well as the fact that he was always an actor first and a star second!!


Edited by: tcmfan4ever82! on Dec 6, 2013 12:21 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Powell would be a terrific choice for SOTM. Like many others, I was pleasantly amazed to see his transformation from "one of Broadway's better known juveniles" in 42nd Street to one of the best of all the hardboiled noir actors, not to mention a memorable comic role in Christmas in July. He was SOTM back in 2000, but 14 years is a long time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although a huge fan of those silly Busby Berkeley musicals, Dick Powell was a huge turn off. I hate his girly smile and smugness that he's just the bees knees.

Come to find out, HE hated that persona too and did everything he could to change it. (re Films of The Golden Age recent cover story)


I too just watched CHRISTMAS IN JULY and could see the transformation towards his film noir persona, which he did very convincingly. His "girly" looks soften the hardness of the tough guy he's playing. It's much easier to see a woman's attraction to Powell than Bogart in the same role. And his role in THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL shows how well he could do straight drama.


And then he went on to successfully act & direct on TV-a man of many talents for sure. It's really great when an actor can break free of the pigeon hole "type" studios often think an audience wants. Too bad there weren't more with the talent & strength of Dick Powell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you think of all the great roles that Powell played once he'd shed his baby face looks and his juvenile parts, it becomes rather clear that he's one of the best examples of the old adage "The good die young". It's not as if he went out as suddenly and quickly as James Dean or Jean Harlow, but it's hard not to feel that at 58 he could have had many more years as a terrific grizzled old character actor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Powell was one of the earliest, if not the first, "two-phase" film stars in the history of movies. He found huge success as a smarmy, shiny faced warbling tenor in his earlier career, and just as huge, if not MORE huge success as a hard-boiled noir star. I'm sure there are many more who've made transitions in their careers, but for now, the only one that comes to mind is LESLIE NIELSEN, who at first did serious, dramatic characters, but as he aged, became a huge comic success.




Edited by: Sepiatone on Dec 6, 2013 11:44 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There have been other stars whose predominant roles shifted gradually over the years. Bogart went from being an almost Pure Thug archetype in the 30's to varying degrees of subtlety and sympathy after that. And many other actors and actresses displayed versatility throughout their careers. But you're right, Powell pretty much stands alone as an actor who went from playing one type of role almost exclusively in the first half of his career, to playing almost diametrically opposite roles in his later years. Part of me wants to think it was nothing but an act of willpower and insight on Powell's part, but another part of me realizes that the dramatic change in his physical appearance made such a role shift possible. His face went from cherubic to grizzled without batting an eyelash, and by the time it was over it looked as if he'd been born to play all those shadowy roles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes there were others who made that career change in films, some successful while others the opposite, but when Powell made the move to switch from the leading man singing his way into the heart of Ruby Keeler among others to the endearing, mysterious,rugged and tough as nails characters that made classic film noir beloved by all, he portrayed a persona that gave a depth, intrigue and edgy charisma as well...there was also a level of complexity added to his film noir roles and it allowed the viewers to see an added edge of Powell's rugged features which made me such a joy to watch in film noir (features doesn't necessarily mean externally either but rather internally as in characteristics).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>I hate his girly smile and smugness that he's just the bees knees.

>Why do people have to be so cruel?


I didn't mean to be "so cruel".

Dick Powell played the boy that every girl in the movie desired-and knew it! He puffed up like a peacock when he sang and exuded an air of smugness. If he was a woman, we'd call it "cloying".

It was just the way he played the part.


Once he was in dramatic roles (or even comedic as in CHRISTMAS IN JULY) that smarmyness was gone. As Marlowe, the smug attitude was toned down and used much more subtlety.


It's obvious when reading anything about his life & art that he too disliked the "sex object" role given him early on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick Powell had credited appearances in 55 films and directed six films ( I can only find the names of five). Warner Home Video owns the rights to 37 of the films that he starred in and one of the films he directed. Thus just the TCM library alone has enough material for Powell to be SOTM.


The problem would be the 10 films owned by Universal. Universal Vault just released "You Never Can Tell" via Universal Vault, so maybe TCM could get their hands on this one.


The only problem: so many of the films that TCM could easiy access are somewhat "one note" - those films from earlier in Powell's career where WB had him pigeon-holed as the crooning romantic lead.


As an actor:

37 Films owned by Warner Brothers (Cry Danger was restored by Olive Films- ownership???)

10 films owned by Universal

3 films owned by Fox.

3 films done for United Artists, ownership of distribution rights not easily discernible.

2 films owned by Columbia.


As a director:

2 films are owned by Fox.

1 film is owned by Warner Brothers.

1 film is owned by Columbia.

1 film is owned by Universal.




1954 Susan Slept Here RKO

1952 The Bad and the Beautiful MGM

1951 You Never Can Tell UNV

1951 The Tall Target MGM

1951 Cry Danger RKO (OLIVE FILMS)


1950 Right Cross MGM

1950 The Reformer and the Redhead MGM

1949 Mrs. Mike UA

1948 Rogues' Regiment UNV

1948 Station West RKO

1948 Pitfall UA (Public Domain???)

1948 To the Ends of the Earth COL

1947 Johnny O'Clock COL

1945 Cornered RKO

1944 Murder, My Sweet RKO


1944 Meet the People MGM

1944 It Happened Tomorrow UA (KINO)

1943 True to Life PMT

1943 Riding High PMT

1943 Happy Go Lucky PMT

1942 Star Spangled Rhythm PMT

1941 In the Navy UNV

1941 Model Wife UNV

1940 Christmas in July PMT

1940 I Want a Divorce PMT


1939 Naughty But Nice WB

1938 Going Places WB

1938 Hard to Get WB

1938 Cowboy from Brooklyn WB

1937 Hollywood Hotel WB

1937 Varsity Show WB

1937 The Singing Marine WB

1937 On the Avenue FOX

1936 Gold Diggers of 1937 WB

1936 Stage Struck WB


1936 Hearts Divided WB

1936 Colleen WB

1935 Thanks a Million FOX

1935 Shipmates Forever WB

1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream WB

1935 Page Miss Glory WB

1935 Broadway Gondolier WB

1935 Gold Diggers of 1935 WB

1934 Flirtation Walk WB

1934 Happiness Ahead WB


1934 Dames WB

1934 Twenty Million Sweethearts WB

1934 Wonder Bar WB

1933 College Coach WB

1933 Footlight Parade WB

1933 Gold Diggers of 1933 WB

1933 42nd Street WB

1933 The King's Vacation WB

1932 Too Busy to Work FOX

1932 Blessed Event WB




1953 Split Second RKO

1956 The Conqueror UNV

1956 You Can't Run Away From It COL

1957 The Enemy Below FOX

1958 The Hunters FOX

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A director can ask an actor to modify their expressions (e.g. tone a certain expression down).

I should have been clearer on why I mentioned Keeler; Both Powell and Keeler play their scenes with a lot of sugar (they drip with coyness). Their scenes standout since the Warner style was grittier and more suited to other actresses like Rogers, Blondell or Alice MacMahon.

I don?t fault Powell or Keeler since I assume they were asked to play the parts like they did. Now I do find a certain level of cuteness to those Powell and Keeler scenes but a little does go a long way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The overwhelming success of 42ND STREET,.and the subsequent resurrection of the film musical led WB to copy faifhfully the elements of this groundbreaking film. New stars Powell and Keeler were asked to repeat as clozsly as possible their rroles in the seroes of misicals tjat followed. We may now see them as cloying, even cringe inducing, but depression audiences ate it up. Times have changed, so their appeal may not translate so well to modern audiences. And for all its hard boiled dzmes, Warners always had the likes of Keeler, Jane Bryan, Joan Leslie, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dick Powell was a smart and talented Hollywood survivor. He knew that his boyish crooner days were coming to a close by the end of the '30s, and he was searching for more mature career paths for his film career. The Hollywood studios, he knew, had him stereotyped as a musical star and would be ready to abandon him as he got older.


He tried but failed to get cast in the role that went to Fred MacMurray in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity. Soon after that, however, his career would take an impressive 180 degree turn when he was cast as Marlowe in Murder My Sweet.


That set him up for a series of more hard boiled film roles, which he even extended to a couple of private eye radio dramas, Rogue's Gallery and Richard Diamond, both capitalizing on Powell's brilliant throwaway delivery of one liners.


With the early and mid 1950's, with Powell's features gradually reflecting his middle aged years, he was talented enough to prosper behind camera, as both producer and director, in films, as well as that medium's competitor, television.


While I have always had a difficult time enjoying Powell in his '30s crooner days (too much smirk and cuteness for me), I love him as a world weary tough guy. While Murder My Sweet remains his best known effort, other still impressive productions along these same lines would include To the Ends of the Earth (as a narcotics agent on a world wide chase after opium smugglers) and Cry Danger, familiar tough guy territory sparked by some great dialogue and effective utilization of location shootings for the production's limited budget (Powell was producer as well as star of this one).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has Dick Powell ever been SOTM before? If so, there are those such as Susan Hayward who have never been SOTM who deserve it more.


Powell was SOTM once, back in October of 2000, and hasn't been a SUTS honoree at any time. Hayward clearly deserves a tribute, but so do many other overlooked actors, and trying to rank them in order of "deserving" is a purely subjective exercise. You want Hayward at the top of the list, I want George Sanders, others have proposed Richard Widmark or even Eleanor Powell. We all want whom we want, and everyone has their reasons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well debating who has the better reasons is a key part of this forum.


It is fair game and people should be able to back up their POV. For example, it is fair to say that George Sanders wasn't a 'name before the title' star. If he was SOTM many of the best movies he was in would have a male lead that had a bigger role than Sanders.


Does that mean Sanders doesn't deserve to be SOTM? I say NO (since he was a key player in so many really good if not great movies).


But if is fair at a forum like this to ask a fan to back up their POV. Remember when we did this with the fans of Jeffery Lynn that wanted him to be SOTM. Sadly too many of his fans had nothing other than 'I like him and I want him to be SOTM'. Sorry but that is weak.


Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Dec 10, 2013 3:19 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...