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July 6, 2004 > De-Lovely


Rated PG-13 for sexual content

by Susana Nuñez

Based on the life and love of one of the world's greatest composers, "De-Lovely" vividly brings Cole Porter's story to life. In the film, Cole (Kevin Kline) is looking back on his life as if it was one of his spectacular stage shows, with the people and events in his life, actors and action onstage. This aesthetically appealing production portrays his lavish, free-spirited lifestyle and complex relationship with the love of his life, Linda Lee Porter (Ashley Judd).

Cole Porter was born on June 9, 1891 in Peru, Indiana and was named for his mother, Kate Cole, and his father, Sam Porter. While his father was a pharmacist, his mother was the daughter of one of the richest men in Indiana, James Omar Cole, known as J.O. Growing up, Cole became accustomed to living a lush lifestyle and his taste for finer things continued throughout his life.

At age six, Cole began piano lessons, leading him to compose his first song, "Song of the Birds," at age ten. Cole wrote the song for his mother Kate, a big supporter of his career from the beginning. While his work was being published, Cole attended high school at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts and graduated as Valedictorian. He went on to study at Yale University, where he used his talent to write six full-scale productions and over 300 songs for various fraternities and student organizations; many of his fight songs are still used by Yale today.

Cole first big hit was in 1928 with the song "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" from the musical "Paris." This song, along with many other subsequent hits, is performed in the film. Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morisette, Elvis Costello, and Robbie Williams, are among the artists chosen to perform songs in the film. Filmmakers wanted to attract a broader audience since most young people have never heard of Cole Porter. Adapting to the time period was a challenge for the artists - more so for some. Elvis Costello, comments, "In doing my part, I think it's the first time I've ever worn a white jacket in my life, and I couldn't see a damn thing because I wore glasses that had period lenses in them. But it was like a dream to up there. It was a joy to do one of Porter's more unusual songs ['Let's Misbehave']."

Since the film spans four decades, the job of capturing the look of each fashion period was given to Oscar-winning costume designer Janty Yates. Yates teamed up with one of the most celebrated designers of all time, Giorgio Armani, to create signature period looks for Kline and Judd. "Armani was very excited about the project and very hands-on," says Kline, "He would rattle away in Italian and his team of top tailors and assistants were all taking copious notes. It was like seeing a great general leading an army - calm, assured, and absolutely in command."

The film's beauty and extravagance is a result of the effort put into it by the cast and crew, and one would never guess that the budget for the film was limited. "Porter represents the best of the Jazz age," says director Irwin Winkler. "He is one of the greatest songwriters of all time and is a titan of American music." A film of this delightful and endearing quality is rare, and simply cannot be missed.

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