De-Lovely is an original musical portrait of American composer Cole Porter, filled with his unforgettable songs. In the film, Porter is looking back on his life as if it was one of his spectacular stage shows, with the people and events of his life becoming the actors and action onstage. Through elaborate production numbers and popular hits like "Anything Goes," "It's De-Lovely," and "Night and Day," Porter's elegant, excessive past comes to light - including his deeply complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Linda Lee Porter.Written by
The old Cole Porter make-up took 5 hours to complete. See more »
Scenes showing Cole Porter musicals being produced on Broadway in the 1930s show African-American and white women dancing together in the chorus lines. Broadway chorus lines weren't racially integrated until the 1970s. See more »
Hello, Cole. I let myself in.
We're not late, are we? I hate to be late.
No, no. We're fine. That sounded lovely.
I hate funeral music. Though, under the circumstances, I suppose I should say my prayers.
Why start now?
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These last few weeks I have eagerly anticipated the Cole Porter biopic, "De- Lovely", starring Kevin Kline. As I read the initial reviews for this film's early, limited run, I was a bit perplexed at the mixed and somewhat negative assessments. Appreciative of Cole Porter's musical brilliance, I have not only seen excellent stage productions of some of his work, but have performed in the stage production, "Cole", a musical tribute to Porter's musical wit and genius. Subsequently, I was mentally primed for a gratifying movie experience that not only touched upon Cole Porter's music, but a more honest portrayal about his personal life, as well.
The introduction of decency codes in Hollywood film-making and the swing in public opinion regarding the gay community had great impact on personal lives at the beginning of the Great Depression. One case in point is the life of William Haines, once the biggest money-maker for specific Hollywood studios, but whose career in film came to a grinding halt when film industry moguls tried to force Haines into a proper, heterosexual "marriage" for social appearances as social conservatism grew in strength as so did the deepening depression. A few years later, "Night and Day", the 1946 film starring Cary Grant, greatly distorted the facts surrounding Cole Porter's life. Post-depression/post-war American society was still not ready for the truth about Cole Porter's life, or homosexuality ("the love that dare not speak its name"), in general. Psychologically, the unrest in Cole Porter's mind regarding his closeted sexuality, his marriage to Linda, his extra-marital dalliances with men and his search for satisfying love have had great impact on the themes in his music. After all, no artist creates within a vacuum; personal experiences influence the creation of art, be it music or otherwise. And, having the greatest understanding of any artist's life, creatively, professionally and personally, allows for the greatest understanding of artistic production.
Although society's understanding and acceptance of gay issues in 2004 would enhance audience favor of this film, regrettably, I left the theater, unfulfilled. This film should have been a snappy cinematic package filled with creative production numbers incorporating Cole Porter's great songs and reflecting upon significant events in his life. Attempts were made. Staging the film as a review of Porter's life viewed scene-by-scene by Cole and his "accomplice" in a darkened theater made for easy understanding of scenes from his adult life. I felt that other, important scenes were missing which would have made for a better understanding of the man. The influences of his privileged childhood in Peru, Indiana, and his college experiences at Yale greatly influenced his direction in life. The easy-to-digest transitions from Paris to various American settings illustrate deft cinematography, staging and editing. However, many scenes looked "too staged" to realistically portray the significant events Cole and his accomplice witness from the main floor of the theatre house. Was this the director's intent? If the staging of the various "scenes" from Porter's life were as Cole remembered them, why were they staged in confining or unrealistic spaces with little bravura and sparkle, considering the man was the essence of these very two things? It's as if every possible cliché was thrown into an impossible to believe setting of Paris when Cole sings to Linda!
The soundtrack to this film is enjoyable. Witnessing the visual performance of present-day artists singing Porter's tunes, however, was hit-or-miss. It was obvious that lip-syncing was taking place. Why cant' such scenes be filmed live, I wonder? Kudos to Robbie Williams' version of "It's De-Lovely" (looking very impish), Alanis Morissette's ""Let's Do It", and Caroline O'Connor's "Anything Goes". Her vocal similarity to Ethel Merman is noteworthy, although the scene did little to display the talents of music and actor. To gain the full impact of these performances, purchase the movie's music compact disc.
If you have an interest in the life of Cole Porter along with his music, I would recommend you see this film to gain some insight. However, if your interest lies only at the level of his music and not of the influences upon his creative output, you will gain small reward by seeing this film, which vacillates in its essence of heart and spirit. Nonetheless, I can recommend the movie's CD.
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