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An Appreciation of the movie De-Lovely, with Kevin Kline as Cole Porter

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But I've been a Kevin Kline fan since I first saw A Fish Called Wanda; not a movie-goer or even movie-watcher, mind you, and it's only been over the ensuing years that I've come to realize that Kline is a Shakespearian actor in Hollywood, much admired in Tinsel Town if not widely envied or loved for his acting in many and various roles. I also have very much my own taste in movies -- I couldn't even finish Sophie's Choice, a period-piece with both Kline and Meryl Streep playing utterly dated roles.

But Kline hit artistic pay dirt again in De-Lovely, and I'm glad that I've found out why I grew up in America with the name Cole Porter, even largely in the absence of his music and totally in ignorance of personal information about him. My father fancied himself a poet, but that's about as close to being a "homosexual" as most of Texas put up with in the 20th century; and my mother, well she forsook a career as a journalist -- in the 1930's -- to marry a "rich man's son" and she followed my father's lead pretty much when it came to instilling values in my sister and me.

But the movie!! The movie!! Not only was Cole Porter a wonderful pianist - he lost the use of his legs in a horse-riding accident later in life. And not only was he bisexual - in the movie his gay friends are much more effective and moving actors than his co-star, Ashley Judd.

Oscars 2009, Cates and Kline, by greginhollywood at Flickr

Ashley Judd, by afagen at Flickr

It doubtless helps anyone's appreciation of movies based on the lives of the men who created the modern musical in America to have seen in New York City in the 1950's My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews and No Time for Sergeants with Andy Griffith. (I also remember our little nuclear family seeing the original Music Man and West Side Story on Broadway one fine summer in that decade, but my older sister disagrees, so I probably just dreamed them.)

The movie?

Howsoever everyone over 50 in America today must have one or two Cole Porter tunes running around in the grey matter, right dear readers? So I'll cut to the chase, as they say.

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Eventually Cole Porter goes to a gay bar and a semi-trusted gay friend photographs him "in flagrante" there and tries to blackmail Ashley, whose previous knowledge of her husband Kevin's sexual activities is a little vague (to say the least). And subsequently, she confronts him saying more or less: I don't care what you do but you have to be discreet! My initial reaction of course, was, well for f***'s sake, he was right: how's anything going to change anywhere if you don't let your own sweet self out of the closet?! Then I had time to reconsider (not being able to follow the movie's dialogue very well without subtitles), and I modified my reaction to: well, of course, there's almost everyone-you-love-and-care-for's feelings to take into account. (And Kevin-Cole does become more discreet in the movie and Ashley-Linda sticks by him, and the movie has a fairly happy and glorious Hollywood ending!!)

And ahhhhhhhh, the musical production numbers; not only is Hollywood vindicated but so is large-screen TV. And ahhhhhhhh, the supporting cast; ditto for Hollywood and large-screen TV.

Catch it if you can. On TV throughout this month (I think).

It won't be returning to our local movies for a while, what with Mickey Rouark and Sean Penn defining bisexuality in post-Bollywood Hollywood.

the wrestler rourke, from Yahoo Image Search (no Flickr pictures)

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Sean Penn for Supervisor, from Jemison at Flickr


I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)

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I,too, grew up ina home where these words weren't ... by sandy valencour on Friday, Sep 4, 2009 at 11:44:01 AM
in our lives, Sandy, and thank you for these remem... by GLloyd Rowsey on Friday, Sep 4, 2009 at 1:34:13 PM
I loved Kline in this movie, he is one of my fav a... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Sep 4, 2009 at 3:15:07 PM
I could have done all without this movie. I, too ,... by Caronome on Saturday, Sep 5, 2009 at 1:42:18 PM