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de-lovely, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

De-Lovely (2004)

Cole Porter was supposedly joking when he suggested Cary Grant as the lead in the first movie based on his life. Though Night and Day was a box-office success, it was encumbered by an uncharacteristically stilted performance by its star. While Kevin Kline’s depiction faithfully captures the composer’s anything goes personality, it is nevertheless burdened by a movie that’s just as laboured as Grant’s earlier portrayal.


Framed by the archangel Gabriel presenting him with a theatrical production of his life, the film focuses on Porter’s marriage to Linda Lee Thomas (Ashley Judd). Aware that her husband likes men more than she does, Linda appears not to be troubled by how he spends his nights as long as the days belong to her, though this is tested as he becomes less and less discreet. It is one of this film’s strengths that, despite the unconventional nature of their relationship, it successfully depicts the undeniable love that Cole and Linda shared.


Yet the framing device keeps getting in the way as the elderly Porter consistently interrupts the play with criticisms of its staging and suggestions for its story. As with the inclusion of contemporary popstars performing their interpretation of Porter’s hits, its Dis-Tracting, its Dis-Ruptive, its Dis-saterous.


There is a scene in this film where Cole Porter, after watching a screening of Night and Day, remarks “If I can survive this movie, I can survive anything”. One suspects he would have greeted De-lovely with the same de-rision.

cast, kevin kline, cole porter, Allan Corduner, Monty Woolley
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Cole Porter was not riding alone when his horse rolled on him and crushed his legs.


Many of the sings are performed out of chronological order, most notably 'True Love' which is performed by Ashley Judd. Her character, Linda Lee Porter, died two years before the song was written for the film High Society.


Biopic implies that Porter stopped composing because of Linda's death, whereas he went on to write another Broadway play ‘Silk Stockings’, and two more film scores, High Society and Les Girls. It was the amputation of his leg that ended his creativity.

film clip, scene comparison, video, nelson eddy, rose marie

Only scene approaching a recreation features Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall. Though jokingly referred to as Mr Nelson, we can assume he is portraying Nelson Eddy, particularly given his attire. Yet the only Nelson Eddy movie that Cole Porter scored, Rosalie, was not set in the Canadian Rockies. That was Nelson Eddy’s previous film Rose-Marie. Furthermore, Cole Porter did not write ‘I Love You’ for an MGM musical. He wrote it in 1944 for the stage musical ‘Mexican Hayride’.

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