From Night and Day to De-Lovely: cinematic representations of Cole Porter

Penny Spirou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cole Porter (1891 – 1964) is a composer and popular songwriter with two musical biopics that explore his life story: Night and Day (Michael Curtiz, 1946) and De-Lovely (Irwin Winkler, 2004). Due to their time of release and production the films offer different interpretations of Cole Porter’s life through musical integration, narrative content, star casting and genre characteristics. Star casting in De-Lovely and Night and Day transforms the way the film audience interprets the protagonist. Casting for a musical biopic is significant as it changes the perception of both the character and the actor. Several popular music artists appear in De-Lovely, not as specific characters but as performers/singers of Porter’s music. The following will explore the function of the popular music artists in the film as well as the casting of Kevin Kline as Cole Porter in comparison to Cary Grant in Night and Day. In terms of genre characteristics, De-Lovely is recognised as what Altman refers to as the ‘backstage musical’ (1987). The genre categorisation can be identified in the narrative premise of the film. The over-arching plot in De-Lovely is that Cole Porter (in the final days before his death) witnesses his life re-enacted through a musical onstage. This stage musical then becomes the diegetic film narrative. A discussion concerning the backstage musical and the function of the contemporary self-reflexive approach will conclude the analysis of De-Lovely and how style and form effects interpretation of content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalRefractory : a journal of entertainment media
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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