The Many Facets of Dick Powell

Dick Powell is the featured star on Monday, August 25, during Turner Classic MoviesSummer Under the Stars festival that happens every August. There are any number of pictures airing that day that might be enjoyed, but we noted three particular pictures that feature an appealing diversity of style and genre and demonstrate Powell’s versatility, and so we commend them to you as a collective 4.5 hours well worth watching.

The triple feature kicks off at 8 p.m. ET with the great Preston Sturges comedy Christmas in July (1940), which finds Powell portraying an office clerk who mistakenly believes his entry has been named the winner in a coffee company’s slogan contest. Hilarity, as one might expect, ensues. Next up, at 9:15 p.m., Powell takes a noir turn as Raymond Chandler‘s shamus, Phillip Marlowe, in Murder, My Sweet (1944). Finally, at 11:00 p.m., Powell takes center stage in one of Busby Berkeley‘s more over-the-top musical efforts, Dames (1934).

We say, record the Emmys and watch these three movies on Monday night, but at the very least, fire up the DVR and record this trio of motion pictures for later viewing; you won’t regret it.

Happy Birthday, Dick Powell!

Dick Powell, who would be 109 today, had a remarkable run as an actor and performer. He started as a band singer (we play his records here on Cladrite Radio) and went on to star in dozens of early musicals, many opposite the gal his career was closely associated with, Ruby Keeler.

But when his boyishness began to fade just a bit (and he began to crave some meatier material), he successfully made the move to playing tough guys in thrillers and films noir.

In fact, you could probably win a few bar bets by asking who was the first actor to play tough-guy private dick Philip Marlowe on the silver screen. Not many would guess it was Powell, but it was, in Edward Dmytryk‘s Murder, My Sweet (1944), which was based on Raymond Chandler‘s Farewell, My Lovely. Powell eventually moved on to directing and producing for movies and television.

On top of all that, he was even married to that swell dame Joan Blondell for a good many years.

A mere boy singer, Powell most certainly was not, but it’s a clip from that phase of his career that we’ll share with you today, on the occasion of his birthday. It’s Powell, Keeler, and a slew of showgirls performing “I Only Have Eyes for You” in the delightfully bonkers finale from Busby Berkeley‘s Dames (1934).