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Fun Friday–De-Lovely: Not a Musical for the Whole Family

Friday, July 25, 2008

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Have you ever seen a musical without a happy ending?” ~De-Lovely

Last Friday, Erica posted her top five musicals. My comment there was a bit convoluted, so I’ll try to clear that up today. So far, I’ve posted about my top three favorite musicals—just not necessarily in order. So here they are in order:

1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
2. State Fair
3. The Music Man

Today, I’m adding #4 to that list. But be warned: this is not a musical that will suit everyone’s tastes, and is definitely a film for adults.

De-Lovely is the (slightly fictionalized) account of the unconventional but beautiful love story of Cole and Linda Porter, starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. You might not recognize Cole Porter’s name, but you might recognize some of the songs that he wrote over his career, some of the most famous of which are featured in this film. He was a highly successful Broadway musical writer, and he had some success with his musicals being adapted for film, including Panama Hattie, Kiss Me Kate, and High Society.

In 1946, a very highly fictionalized (and sanitized) version of the Cole-and-Linda story was released, starring Cary Grant as Cole Porter (Night and Day). I finally got around to seeing this older version after having fallen in love with De-Lovely and reading a brief biography . . . and the Cary Grant version bears little resemblance to the real Cole Porter’s life.

What I adore about De-Lovely is that though Cole and Linda’s marriage is shown as “unconventional” (at best), they make it work; and toward the end of the film, after an estrangement, it’s apparent how deeply these two characters love each other. (Yes, even though they’re based on real people, let’s be honest—these are characters.) This is my go-to film when I need a good cry, because there’s just something about the love story told in this film that touches me in a very deep place—influenced by the fabulous music.

The story is told using the framework of Cole at the end of his life being guided back through the story by “Gabe” (Jonathan Pryce, on the left) as if they’re watching it all take place on a stage with Cole and Gabe as the only audience. Along the way, Gabe questions Cole about things that have happened, giving the older Cole a chance to reflect on his thoughts and feelings (and yes, that is Kevin Kline under all that makeup—which, I’ve read, took 5 hours to apply). This “framework” technique took a bit of getting used to the first time I watched it, but once I saw it all the way through, not only did it make sense, but it added an entirely new dimension to the story (and to Gabe’s quote at the top of this post).

Another method used in this film is intercutting between scenes of Cole working on the music and the music being performed on stage. In this clip, he’s playing the centerpiece song of his new musical, Kiss Me Kate, because Linda is too sick to go to the opening with him.

Kevin Kline not only did his own singing (which was mostly recorded on set as they were filming instead of in a studio), any time he’s sitting at the piano, he’s actually the one playing. Ashley Judd, the so-called “non-singing Judd,” does her own singing in this as well.

As I mentioned, some of Cole Porter’s most beloved music is incorporated in this film:

  • “Anything Goes” (Chorus)
  • “Well, Did You Evah?” (Kevin Kline & Kevin McNally)
  • “You’d Be So Easy to Love” (Kevin Kline)
  • “It’s De-Lovely” (Robbie Williams)
  • “What Is This Thing Called Love?” (Kevin Kline & Lemar)
  • “Let’s Misbehave” (Elvis Costello)
  • “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” (Alanis Morissette)
  • “True Love” (Ashley Judd & Tayler Hamilton)
  • “Night & Day” (John Barrowman)
  • “Anything Goes” (Caroline O’Connor & Chorus)
  • “Begin the Beguine” (Sheryl Crow)
  • “Be a Clown” (Kevin Kline, Peter Polycarpou & Chorus)
  • “I Love You” (Mick Hucknall)
  • “Just One of Those Things” (Diana Krall)
  • “Experiment” (Kevin Kline)
  • “Love for Sale” (Vivian Green)
  • “So in Love” (Kevin Kline/Lara Fabian & Mario Frangoulis)
  • “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” (Natalie Cole)
  • “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” (Jonathan Pryce, Kevin Kline, Cast & Chorus)
  • “In the Still of the Night” (Kevin Kline & Ashley Judd)
  • “You’re the Top” (Cole Porter)

Now, before you go rent this and then come back here and rant and rave about how much you hated this movie, let me remind you that you’ve been warned: this story is not going to be to everyone’s taste. But it is one of my favorites, so that’s why I’ve blogged about it. That said, here’s my absolute favorite scene from the film:

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, July 25, 2008 7:10 am

    I can’t see the video clips since they won’t come up at work – I’ll have to watch them after I get home tonight (after we see The Dark Knight – YAY!!!). Thanks for the heads up about Keith Allen…I’m definitely going to have to rewatch this as it’s been several years since I last saw it. I remember really appreciating how Linda and Cole’s (unconventional, as you say) relationship is portrayed in this film – it’s achingly, beautifully authentic. Probably because, as I recall, it’s a “warts and all” view. LOL! 😉 Night and Day is interesting if looked at in the context of how Hollywood “sanitized” people’s lives for mass consumption in the ’40s and ’50s. But now I think it’s a little crazy seeing Cary Grant as Cole Porter…especially if one knows anything about the genuine article. LOL! I think one of the better “biopics” from the classic era is Three Little Words (Red Skelton and Fred Astaire as the songwriting team of Kalmar and Ruby). Though of course it takes several liberties with their lives as well. 🙂

    Like

  2. Friday, July 25, 2008 7:40 am

    I haven’t heard of this movie before. But I did recognize a lot the songs. What about White Christmas is that one you like? Actually that would have to be my favorite because I watch every Thanksgiving the day after with my girls.

    Like

  3. Friday, July 25, 2008 8:08 am

    I think I remember seeing trailers for this when the movie came out. Looks intriguing. Might have to rent it when Himself isn’t around.

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  4. Friday, July 25, 2008 9:53 am

    I never heard of this one. Tried listening to the clip, but I get my volume to go loud enough to really hear it. Is the whole movie this slow paced?

    Shellie, White Christmas is my all time favorite as well. We watch it every year over Christmas break. I still remember my sisters and I singing the “sisters song” with such fun as we climbed our wooden staircase for bed. Watching this yearly is such a tradition– I hope I never miss a year.

    Like

  5. Friday, July 25, 2008 9:54 am

    I’m with the majority. I never even heard of this film before.

    My favorite Kevin Kline films are Silvarado and Soap Dish.

    Like

  6. Friday, July 25, 2008 10:02 am

    I love musicials too, although I rarely see them anymore. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; Danny Kaye; Judy Garland — love ’em all.

    The most recent musical I’ve seen was the Hairspray movie with John Travolta. That was surprisingly enjoyable. And I didn’t even realize it was JT until about halfway thru the movie. Go figure!

    Like

  7. Amy permalink
    Friday, July 25, 2008 10:05 am

    Kaye, what eclectic taste you have. Never heard of this movie, but it sounds interesting. If you’re watching all of these musicals, when do you have time to write and take care of everything else???

    Like

  8. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:00 am

    @ Eileen–no the whole movie isn’t as slow as the two clips I posted. Both of those clips are near the end of the movie, which is the part I love the most, so that’s why I chose them.

    But the movie is definitely a drama, not a comedy, so it does have a somewhat slower story pace.

    Like

  9. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:05 am

    I’ve wanted to see this for some time now, but haven’t gotten around to it.

    Off subject, but Ruth: What the hell were you doing last weekend that you’re just now seeing The Dark Knight!?

    Kaye, have you caught it yet?

    Like

  10. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:13 am

    @Caleb: LOL–Ruth and I (and another friend) had really crappy weeks last week (and who knew this week would be worse for me?) and decided not to fight the crowds to go see DK on opening night. So we’re going tonight.

    Like

  11. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:28 am

    @Caleb – LOL

    And Kaye – seriously our worst case scenario radar must be out of whack… 😉

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  12. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:28 am

    WALL-E double feature? 😀

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  13. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:44 am

    Um . . . some of us are currently unemployed and need to save a little bit of money . . .

    Like

  14. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:45 am

    @Ruth — Yeah, but who expects that?

    @Everyone: I have a job interview Wednesday at 9 a.m. central time. Acquisitions Editor in Michigan. Much prayer support needed!

    Like

  15. Friday, July 25, 2008 12:01 pm

    @Kaye – Wowzers!!! This is exciting! I just knew you’d get callbacks! 🙂

    Like

  16. Friday, July 25, 2008 12:52 pm

    I’m praying for you, Kaye! May you shine your editorial savy big time!

    Like

  17. Friday, July 25, 2008 1:22 pm

    5 days and counting until the big drawing. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat.

    Like

  18. Friday, July 25, 2008 2:37 pm

    @ Ruth–yeah, but MICHIGAN? I don’t like any of their sports teams! And I have a feeling that I won’t get to see my beloved LSU Tigers’ football team on TV up there either. 😥

    Like

  19. Friday, July 25, 2008 2:38 pm

    ” Acquisitions Editor in Michigan. Much prayer support needed!”

    –> Prayers and support coming your way in big huge waves! Now what pops out at me is the word “Michigan” – are we talking moving for a new job or is this something you could stay where you are to do. I hope everything goes well. They’d be crazy not to want you!

    Like

  20. Friday, July 25, 2008 2:42 pm

    @Jennifer–no, we’re talking relocating to the great-white north where people talk funny 😉

    Like

  21. Friday, July 25, 2008 2:53 pm

    @Kaye – See, I’m very torn. I 100% DON’T want you to move…but as your friend I think they’d be insane not to recognize your qualifications and roll out the proverbial red carpet. It’s quite a conundrum…

    Like

  22. Friday, July 25, 2008 3:30 pm

    So what’s up with saying “unconventional marriage” multiple times without explaining what you meant? I had to dig at IMDB to have a clue b/c I’ve never heard of these characters.

    (Were you just trying to be “discreet?”)

    Like

  23. Friday, July 25, 2008 3:34 pm

    Yes, I was trying to be discreet, but also to keep from putting terms on this blog that might get my blog listed on web/blog crawlers that look for those kinds of words.

    Plus, for me, the main theme of this story is his love for Linda, not how he chose to live his early life.

    Like

  24. Friday, July 25, 2008 3:39 pm

    GA! Those auto smilies again! I was not winking at you!

    Was I?
    😉

    That time I was.
    Ha.

    I’m excited for you and your interview. And for the record I think cold places are good for writers.

    Says the Alaskan.

    Like

  25. Friday, July 25, 2008 4:24 pm

    Hey, Kaye, what is the movie rated? My Hubby likes movies with Ashley Judd so perhaps I can get him to watch it with me! rose

    Like

  26. Friday, July 25, 2008 5:35 pm

    Haha – We don’t talk funny! Well I take that back – people in Boston really do talk funny, but most of us Northies talk normal 🙂 Good luck with the interview.

    Like

  27. Emilie permalink
    Friday, July 25, 2008 5:59 pm

    I’m a Yankee married to a good ol’ Southern boy. Our first conversation, before we knew anything about one another other than our names, was about how his mom didn’t want him to come up north (Indiana) for grad school for fear he’d marry someone who “talked funny.”

    Two years later, he did just that:)

    I’ll pray for a good interview and discernment on whether it’s the best path for you as well. Good luck!!!

    Like

  28. Mary Beth I. permalink
    Friday, July 25, 2008 10:24 pm

    I am a product of the 70’s. I like the more modern musicals – Grease, Chicago, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I also love The Wizard of Oz, Annie, and any Disney film that is filled with dance and song.

    I am also a Kevin Kline fan but have never seen any of these movies!

    Like

  29. Friday, July 25, 2008 11:33 pm

    You got me with this one. I’ve never seen it.

    On another note- I’m praying for direction and discernment for you!!

    Like

  30. Sunday, July 27, 2008 2:11 pm

    The great white north would welcome you with open arms. You can see LSU when they play OSU. 🙂 And there is snowmobiling, plugging the block heater in your car up to the handy outlet on the parking meters, skyways to keep you shopping but out of the cold, and lovely traditions like Eelpout Festivals! Gooooo Snooooooow!

    Like

  31. greyfort permalink
    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 10:34 am

    Hmm – I might netflix this – I like Ashley Judd – and I like musicals… Maybe, one of these days.

    Like

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