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Dick Powell was a musical actor in the 1930s who transitioned into a noir actor in the '40s and then a TV producer in the '50s.
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Blessed Event (1933). Delighted with his performance, the studio presented him with a long-term contract. Powell starred in many of Warner Bros. most renowned musical productions including 42nd Street and Footlight Parade (1933) and Dames (1934). Powell was also featured in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), in which he starred opposite Olivia de Havilland. Many of the films, which featured the choreography of Busby Berkeley, paired Powell with actress Ruby Keeler. Powell and Keeler shared a film chemistry and, at the time, were recognized as cinema’s most popular romantic couple. The musical duo made seven films together including Gold Diggers of 1933 and Will Rogers (1933); their last production was Colleen (1936).
In 1940, Powell moved on to straight comedy starring in Preston Sturges’s Christmas in July. During the early 40’s, he took a number of supporting roles in unsuccessful films and, as a result, his career suffered. In 1944, he began to develop his acting skills with a darker range of themes and characters. His portrayal of private detective Philip Marlowe in the thriller Murder, My Sweet (1944), an adaptation of the novel Farewell My Lady, earned him critical acclaim. This transition to film noir revived Powell’s struggling career and established him as a multifaceted actor, especially adept at portraying tough heroes. Critics were quick to praise his performances in other noir thrillers such as Cornered (1945) and Pitfall (1948).
Split Second. He also directed The Conqueror (1956), which starred John Wayne and Agnes Moorehead. Powell’s last directorial feats were in the war thrillers The Enemy Below (1957) and The Hunter (1958); both were poorly received by critics and audiences.
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