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, Raymond Chandler!

Shame on us for almost letting Mr. Chandler’s 126th birthday slip by us. This post first saw the light of day a year ago today, but it’s worth a revisit…

We’ve made no secret of our deep affection for the work of the great Raymond Chandler, so we couldn’t let his 125th birthday go by without notice today.

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid reading any of Chandler’s work to date, savor this brief opening paragraph from his short story Red Wind; it’s as good an introduction as any to one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

Happy birthday, Mr. Chandler, wherever you may be.

Hollywood to Pay Tribute to Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler and the Hollywood Walk of Fame

One of Los Angeles’ greatest noir writers will be getting a permanent place in the sun: on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Raymond Chandler is one of 30 people who will get such stars in 2015… Full story here.

Oh, how we’d love to be on hand for that ceremony. It’s an honor that’s long overdue.

Speaking of Raymond Chandler, did you know what he had a Hitchcock-esque cameo in the 1944 noir classic Double Indemnity, a picture on which he served as co-screenwriter? Virtually no one did until a few years ago. But see for yourself—that’s him sitting and reading in a chair outside insurance investigator Edward G. Robinson‘s office.

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).

In Their Words: Raymond Chandler

We’ve made no secret of our deep affection for the work of the great Raymond Chandler, so we couldn’t let his 125th birthday go by without notice today.

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid reading any of Chandler’s work to date, savor this brief opening paragraph from his short story Red Wind; it’s as good an introduction as any to one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

Happy birthday, Mr. Chandler, wherever you may be.