By Robert Simonson
24 May 2004
The supporting cast includes Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Angie Hill, Keith Allen, John Barrowman, Natalie Cole, Allan Corduner, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Nicola Dawn, Lara Fabian, Vivian Green, Mick Hucknall, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Lemar Obika, Caroline O'Connor, Peter Polycarpou, Robbie Williams.
The plot of the MGM film is described this way: "In the film, Porter is looking back on his life as if it was one of his spectacular stage shows, with the people and events of his life becoming the actors and action onstage. Through elaborate production numbers and legendary hits like `Anything Goes,' `It's De-Lovely,' and `Night and Day,' Porter's elegant, excessive past comes to light?including his deeply complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Linda Lee Porter."
Judd, recently on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, plays Linda. Keith Allen and Angie Hill are Irving and Ellin Berlin. O'Connor is Ethel Merman. Polycarpou is Louis B. Mayer. McNally and Nelson play '20s icons Gerald and Sara Murphy. Corduner is actor Monty Woolley. Pryce is a director named Gabe who stages a version of Porter's life which serves as a framing device for the movie.
Bio-pics about the lives of the musical theatre's greatest composers used to be a staple of the Hollywood studios. Among the more famous were "Yankee Doodle Dandy," starring James Cagney as George M. Cohen; "Words and Music," with Mickey Rooney and Tom Drake as Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; "Rhapsody in Blue," with Robert Alda playing George Gershwin; and "Night and Day," in which Cary Grant impersonated Porter.
The genre disappeared with the decline of the movie musical. But the recent successes of "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago" appear to have breathed new life into filmic tales of America's classic tunemakers.
The movie will spotlight 30 of Porter's songs. The composer penned such enduring musicals as Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate. Among the standards he created are "Night and Day," "Too Darn Hot," "You're the Top," "I Love Paris," "Easy to Love," "It's De-Lovely" and "I've Got You Under My Skin."