American Masters: Season 5, Episode 4

You're the Top: The Cole Porter Story (23 Jul. 1990)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 57 users  
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Biographical portrait of one of Broadway's most brilliant songwriters. Told through the use of archival material and interviews with the rich and famous that knew him, this portrait concentrates on his career and his public life events.

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Biographical portrait of one of Broadway's most brilliant songwriters. Told through the use of archival material and interviews with the rich and famous that knew him, this portrait concentrates on his career and his public life events.

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23 July 1990 (USA)  »

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Good if not quite the top!
16 May 2006 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

After watching the rather egregious and overlong biopic "De-Lovely", it is with some relief that I turn to the under-an-hour long documentary "You're the Top: The Cole Porter Story" (© 1990) on DVD.

In this case, all of the performers were shown in real historical clips some of which are quite blurry or streaky but at least there are reasons for them, unlike the aforementioned biopic. Even Cole himself gets to sing at least parts of his songs throughout.

But Cole was no singer really and even Cary Grant tops him in this department in some brief excerpts from the earlier biopic "Night and Day". Others include Merman (in the earlier excerpts she is light enough to do some quite athletic movements with Crosby in "Anything Goes" before putting on weight as in the later excerpts with Bob Hope etc.), Astaire, Sinatra, Gertrude Lawrence as well as Gene and Judy in "The Pirate". Virginia Bruce sings "I've Got You Under my Skin" to the young Jimmy Stewart in "Born to Dance" but, alas, we don't get Jimmy himself singing "Easy to Love" to and with Eleanor Powell.

Most of these musical numbers are not identified by performers and sources and they should have been. And virtually all of these numbers are excerpts only.

Narrated in part by the late Bobby Short (Michael Feinstein also puts in an appearance) many others include friends like the ubiquitous Kitty Carlisle Hart and, most notably, (Arnold) Saint Subber his producer for "Kiss Me Kate" who, though obviously ill at the time of filming, adds a great deal of honest emotion and intensity to the proceedings.

Yes, Cole's homosexuality is mentioned early on in connection with his marriage to Linda (Alexis Smith who played her in "Night and Day" also comments briefly.) but not stressed much after that.


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