Saturday, October 24, 2009
You're the top!
Happy Birthday Kevin Kline!
Now, I had a post all written up, and I even published it... but then I realized that it was Kevin Kline's birthday and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I've been wanting to write a compare/contrast post about Night and Day (1946) and De-Lovely (2004). The trouble is, I've only seen De-Lovely once. It was about four years ago and I saw it with my step-mom who often interpreted movies differently than I did. Therefore, I regret to say that this will not be the best post I have ever done because I have not done adequate amounts of research on it. But I will what I can. Hopefully I'll be able to rewatch De-Lovely soon and, if necessary, I'll make edits to this post accordingly. If I do, I will let you know.
De-Lovely tells the story of Cole Porter (played by Kevin Kline) and his wife, Linda (played by Ashley Judd). A contemporary, biographry, it does not hold back on the details of Porter's homosexuality. Rather, the movie emphasizes those details. It is all told in retrospect, as an old Porter looks back on his life and reflects. Again, it has been a while since I've seen the film, but I remember the wild parties depicted, the tragic scenes, and the overall somber attitude. This could be a case of misremembering and, if it is, please let me know! In any case, it works well as a comparison to:
Night and Day, which stars Cary Grant as Cole Porter and Alexis Smith as Linda Lee Porter, with Michael Curtiz directing. Interestingly enough, Cole Porter was actually alive when they made this fictionalized biography of him. I think it is an important detail due to the way they portray the songwriter's life. For example, they completely omit his homosexuality and suggest that the Porter's marriage came to rocky terms due to his excessive work ethic. As the movie was made in the '40s, this omission makes sense, particularly with the subject still being alive - audiences would not have been as accepting of a favorite romantic composer being gay. I've heard that Cary Grant was cast mostly as a wish fulfillment for Porter. Apparently they asked who he'd like to have play him, he said, "Cary Grant," and so Cary Grant was cast. I've also heard that Grant was very frustrated by the portrayal of Cole Porter as he was friends with the composer and knew that the story being told was mostly false. I hate to fill this post with so many "I've heard"s and "I believe"s, but I promise to rewatch these films and do better research in the future!! I watched this movie after I'd seen Night and Day and was completely surprised by the lighthearted way it was handled. To be honest, I was rather relieved. The '40s went through a small phase of making fictional biographies of composers, including, Words and Music (1948) (Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart) and Rhapsody in Blue (1945) (George Gershwin). I'd already seen both of those films before Night and Day and I really prefer the latter with its lighthearted style. They all are described as fictional biographies and, in my opinion, if you're going to make up facts about a real person, you might as well make them cheery facts! However, I will admit that De-Lovely does more justice to the truth in Cole Porter's story.
So there you have it. Two films about the same person with completely different storylines and styles. If you are a fan of Cole Porter, I encourage you to check these two films out and make your own judgment on which is the superior film and which is the truer depiction of Cole Porter.
And, as a treat, here are two clips. One, with Cary Grant singing (a rare treat!) and the second, with Kevin Kline and John Barrowman performing one of my favorite Cole Porter songs.
Also, I highly recommend you check out Kevin Kline in Pirates of Penzance (1983) which can be found here.