De-Lovely is a musical bio-pic based on the life of Cole Porter. Now, Porter was an American genius, responsible for writing such song classics as “Love for Sale” and “Anything Goes”. Porter’s personal life was also legendary. He had a wife, but also had affairs with men. Porter also suffered a horse riding accident in the late 1930’s that debilitated him for the rest of his life (to his death in 1964). Sounds like the great makings of a movie, right? Well….
Kevin Kline plays Cole Porter, and h… has the necessary panache to pull off the role. Ashley Judd also has a nice turn as Linda, Porter’s wife. The problem with the film is the presentation. The film tries for a musical within a musical idea, as an older Porter oversees a musical based on his life. Sometimes the technique works, sometimes it misfires. Modern music stars are also peppered throughout the film (like Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, and Sheryl Crow) singing Porter tunes. Some of these songs do not work very well (Miss Morissette – guilty as charged!). The director, Irwin Winkler, is an old Hollywood vet, so he does show reverence for the material. The result is a charming, if not entirely successful, musical bio-pic.
This disc is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The sound in a movie of this kind is essential, since there are a lot of musical numbers. While not employing as many surround effects as I would’ve thought, the sound is clean and clear throughout. Keep your front speakers well oiled – They take a pounding.
Presented in 2:35:1 widescreen, the video transfer is quite lively. Very appropriate for Cole Porter. The colors are rich and blacks are solid. Some frequent evidence of shimmering, but that seems to be par for the course with most transfers. Well done.
The special edition has some good features to keep fans happy. There are two audio commentaries, one with director Irwin Winkler and star Kevin Kline and another with Winkler and writer Jay Cocks. Both are interesting, but I love hearing Kevin Kline.
There are two featurettes, “Making of De-Lovely” and “Music of De-Lovely”. Each runs about 25 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively. There are also two “Anatomy of a Scene” segments. The segments look into the making of the “Be a Clown” and “Love for Sale” numbers (and I still think “Be a Clown” sounds like “Make ‘Em Laugh”, from Singin’ in the Rain. The nine deleted scenes are also good examples of why the tone of the movie would’ve been upset.
De-Lovely is a movie that hits and misses. It also features strong performances from Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. The movie tries to be a throwback to old Hollywood musicals, but doesn’t hit the right notes all the time. This is something Cole Porter would never do.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director Irwin Winkler and Kevin Kline
- Commentary by director Irwin Winkler and writer Jay Cocks
- 30-minute making-of featurette
- Behind-the-music featurette
- Anatomy-of-a-scene featurettes: Be a Clown, Love for Sale
- Eight deleted scenes
- Never-before-seen alternate ending
- Theatrical trailer, TV spot