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A ‘De-Lovely' Musical Experience

4 Nov, 2004 By: Dan Bennett

For Irwin Winkler, it began with a love for the music.

“Like many people, I had always loved the great American classics,” said the director of De-Lovely. “I enjoyed Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, but I particularly loved Cole Porter. I was inspired by the intricacy of his music.”

De-Lovely is due Dec. 21 from MGM Home Entertainment in a special-edition DVD at $26.98 (VHS $27.50). The DVD includes interviews, alternate endings and behind-the-scenes footage.

Though at least one other film had attempted to capture Porter's life, Winkler was eager for a fresh, honest look.

“We contacted the Cole Porter Trust, and they gave us free use of the catalog and no limitations on what we did,” Winkler said. “We were free to discuss his personal life. This was an incredibly interesting story. Here's a man who was married to the same woman for 38 years and loved her, but he was gay.”

Winkler collaborated on De-Lovely with screenwriter Jay Cocks. “We saw his life as something of a big musical,” Winkler said. “We thought it would be interesting if we looked back at Porter's life as if it was a theatrical production, and through that format, we found a way to show what happened.”

De-Lovely features performances of such Porter classics as “Anything Goes,” “Night and Day” and “So in Love,” by modern talents Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole and Alanis Morissette.

“Kevin [Kline as Porter] is a very accomplished musical theater star,” Winkler said.

In the film, Ashley Judd plays the role of Porter's wife, Linda, and Judd was also asked to sing a little, though she usually leaves that aspect of performance to her country music-stars sister and mother. “Ashley doesn't necessarily want to sing, because of her family,” Winkler said. “She was apprehensive, but she does a great job.”

The last Cole Porter biopic, Night and Day starring Cary Grant, was made in 1947.

“In those days, you couldn't be as honest as you can now,” Winkler said. “We live in a much more open society today. Here was a man who, because of his varied relationships, all of his love songs question the very nature of love.”

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