Dick Powell

  1. John Payne, Garden of the Moon, 1938.       After seven Ruby Keeler musicals, Dick was wilting and refused another stillborn crooner. Even Bette Davis preferred   suspension to this final Warners number from musical wunderkind  Busby Berkeley.  So, for Powell-Bette Davis, read Payne-Margaret Lindsay.
  2. George Brent, Twin Beds, 1941.     The cheesy comedy sandwiching of newly weds Brent and Binnie Barnes churned into Powell and Joan Bennett.   For no apparent gain.
  3. Fred MacMurray, Double Indemnity, 1943.     When George Raft refused, Powell wanted the role of Walter Neff, but was his studio wouldn’t allow it. So… he tore up his contract. Director Billy Wilder’s first thoughts for the murdering adulterer: Raft, James Cagney, Brian Donlevy, Alan Ladd, Fredric March, Gregory Peck and  Spencer Tracy…  all fled!
  4. Robert Young, Crossfire, 1946.   Having made Murder My Sweet and Cornered for director Edward Dmytryk, Powell seemed set for the lead. Until Young grabbed it. The New York Times praised the questioning “of racial and religious prejudice with more forthright courage than audiences have been accustomed to.” Richard Brooks’ book was braver – as Sam Levene’s character was killed not because he was Jewish, but gay.
  5. Robert Mitchum, Out of the Past  (UK: Build My Gallows High), 1947.  Author Daniel Mainwaring (aka Geoffrey Holmes) admitted much of Gallowswas lifted from The Maltese Falcon. So, naturally, he wanted Sam Spade to play Jeff Bailey.  But Humphrey Bogart passed (after Pat O’Brien). John Garfield, Powell and.on loan from Paramount,  the future Tarzan Lex Barker also backed away from “A MAN  trying to run away from  his past. A WOMAN… trying to escape her future”! Mitchum made it a classic.
  6. Barry Sullivan, The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952.      With his career greatly revitalised by TV, Powell swopped roles in director Vincente Minnelli’s remarkably honest Hollywood drama. Actor-director Powell played the movie writer and Sullivan became the director.
  7. Kevin McCarthy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.     “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next. You’re next…”    But not Powell.
  8. Dana Andrews, Night of the Demon, 1957.     Whatever certain critics praise Hollywood’s resident réalisateur Jacques Tourneur for, it was never for judicious casting…  He chose Rory Calhoun over Robert Mitchum for Way Of A Gaucho, 1952. And when unable to persuade Powell or Robert Taylor to join this UK horror number, the French director son of a French director father called upon the star who hadn’t exactly uplifted their previous collaboration: Canyon Passage, 1946. And yet the wooden Andrews also headed Tourneur’s next outing, The Fearmakers, 1958. Powell had been on Tourneur’s list for Out Of The Past, 1947.
  9. David Janssen, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, TV, 1957-1960.  No, no, said a very honest Powell, I’m too old for sexy sleuthing!.  He had played Diamond on radio in the early 50s. He knew  the character inside out and suggested Janssen would be perfect.  He was.   Even better as The Fugitive, 1963-1967, and Harry O, 1973-1976.  Sam, his telephone operator, was heard but never fully seen – just the hands and, of course, legs… of future TV  icon, Mary Tyler Moore!
  10. Howard Duff, Dante, TV, 1960-1961. Actor-producer Dick Powell originated the character of Willie Dante oin an  episode of his ’50s  Four Star Playhouse series – one 1952 chapter beingtcalled, but of course, Dante’s Inferno(1952), – but passded the single seasopn version to Duff.


 Birth year: 1904Death year: 1963Other name: Casting Calls:  10