Perhaps, it was the constant turmoil in Cole Porter’s life that allowed him to write such soulful, romantic and eloquent songs. His music is still with us today and will be for many years to come. His lasting impression on our society has been paid tribute in the film De-Lovely, directed by Irwin Winkler.
This beautifully-made film brings the legend to life and revives his glorious collection of classic songs. Porter’s story is presented with creativity and style. It begins as an elderly man is shown a production of his past in the form of a staged musical. Gabe, played by Jonathan Pryce, is the producer who serves almost as the ‘Ghost of Christmas Past.’
Using this format to tell Porter’s story gives the filmmakers a creative way of incorporating Porter’s music and chronicling his life.
Kevin Klein portrays Porter with wit and vulnerability while Ashley Judd gives a moving performance as his wife Linda. Their love was as real as love can be, but their relationship was more complex than many people knew.
Cole’s love for Linda was strong and true but neither of them could deny his homosexuality. Their marriage withstood many strains, but Linda was committed to loving and accepting Cole for who he was.
Porter’s homosexual relationships are treated as normal in the film, perhaps to convey Linda’s perspective to the audience, or to make a political statement. In either case, it is a refreshing, unapologetic look at the history of homosexuality in America. It may shock audiences, but will also expose them to another reality.
De-Lovely is a visually stunning film with amazing costumes that transport the audience back to the 1920s and 1930s. The sets are spectacular and bring to life the extravagance and luxury Porter enjoyed.
Though De-Lovely is not your typical musical, Porter’s music is performed throughout the film to progress the plot. Many of today’s most talented performers lend their voices and portray the night club singers and Broadway actors of the time. Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, Elvis Costello and Natalie Cole, among others, bring Porter’s classic songs to life.
In his lifetime, Cole Porter wrote dozens of hit songs that remain standards in the American song book. “Night and Day,” “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” have been made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and can be heard in many Italian restaurants. Porter also composed ten Broadway productions including the hits Anything Goes and Kiss Me Kate.
Hopefully, this movie has introduced his work to a whole new generation of music lovers so that the melodies of Cole Porter will live on forever.
Milli Protheroe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.