RARA-AVIS: Re: Dick Powell

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 28 Mar 2008

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Crider" <macavityabc@...> wrote:
> While I was worrying about whether I was a real guy today, I
thought of Dick
> Powell's version of Richard Diamond on radio. A singing p.i. I
suppose he
> didn't dance only because it was radio. Too bad he didn't do the
TV show.
> Bill Crider

While searching my various sources for the Chandler letter Jim Doherty referenced saying Dick Powell was the best of the Marlowes, the only reference to Powell I found other than the initial slighting of Powell as a tough guy was in reference to Powell's "Richard Diamond" radio program.

In a 1949 letter to Dale Warren, Chandler suggested "...tune in on the new Dick Powell show, which is swiped from Philip Marlowe which is swiped from Sam Spade which is swiped from Orson Welles' radio technique of the first person narration passing into direct dramatization." Chandler then goes into a somewhat lengthy discussion of radio techniques. Then (in all caps) he gives a promo of the Diamond program: "STAY TUNED IN FOR THE DICK POWELL SHOW, STARRING (YOU GUESSED IT) DICK POWELL. THE GREATEST PRIVATE DETECTIVE OF THEM ALL (THAT SINGS TENOR)."

The other Chandler biographies and essay collections I have (list available upon request) make no mention of Powell as Marlowe beyond the 1946 letter that compares him unfavorably to Bogart, although it is clear Chandler liked the Powell movie "Murder My Sweet." I can state no preference myself as it has been more than four decades since I viewed the Powell movie and my memory is quite dim. I am quite fond of both Powell and Bogart.

One thing my research turned up that I didn't recall is that Chandler had worked a considerable amount of time on Robert Montgomery's version of THE LADY IN THE LAKE. Frank MacShane, Chandler's biographer and the editor of his Selected Letters, says Steve Fisher finished the script and Chandler refused any credit for it. While I don't have Frank Gruber's THE PULP JUNGLE in front of me (although it is nearby if someone needs a more precise reference), I do recall that Gruber said his pal Fisher and Chandler had a credit dispute before the Writer's Guild and Fisher won the dispute. Chandler complained to Gruber about it (according to Gruber) and it was a serious altercation.

How many scripts could both Fisher and Chandler have worked on in which they had a dispute? I think it has to be the same Lady in the Lake incident.

Richard Moore

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