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Monday, August 25, 2014

Dick Powell was on TV this morning acting in a movie about song plagiarism... he played a well-spoken music composer whose piano performance of a classical melody gets lifted from him, from behind his back via Dictaphone, and a lyricist sets it and credits him as the composer.  The estate of the dead composer brings Dick to court where the judge is pre-occupied with his own compositions from hasty pudding college days. It turns out that the deceased composer lifted the melody from a prior composer whose work is in the public domain.  After dismissing the case the judge hums a familiar classical theme as his own and asks Dick if he thinks it has potential.  Dick identifies it as Beethoven's.

Thanks to reruns of Busby Berkley's Warner Brothers musicals, Mr. Powell's energetic ingenue had long-ago transfigured into a unique and lovable individual.  He sings beautifully and his performances are, to say the least, "informed."  He does have depth and his own story is that he always wanted to be taken seriously.  As Philip Marlowe In Murder My Sweet and other Dmytryk noir films he proved that was no longer the juvenile...

The more I thought of him the more I admired him.  To learn about his later career I defaulted to Wikipedia, where words connect, and learned that he only lived 58 years, until 1963.  During that time he contributed to radio, television, movies, as a producer, director, actor, singer and dancer.  Why when he died was he still so young?

As did John Wayne and more than a third of the cast and crew of The Conqueror, which Dick Powell directed on location in St. George, Utah, Dick Powell died of cancer

So an alleged "turkey" of a movie from 1956, in which John Wayne precedes Omar Shariff as cinema's Gengis Khan, was filmed "upwind" of (160 miles from) a nuclear testing site in Nye County Nevada.

Well, that's the sad story of Dick Powell.  He was exposed to the fall-out from nuclear bombs.  There may be a question about radiating particles causing cancers, but statistics support the answer yes.  All we can do (as a species) is adapt.

and be inspired by the work of Dick Powell....