As an 'avid, rabid' fan of Archie Leech aka "Cary Grant," my favourite films of his are his rather silly films where he used his famous English Rhyming Slang and other witticisms- For example "His Girl Friday," "Operation Petticoat," or "The Philadelphia Story" - But there were a few films "Cary Grant" starred in that were more "serious" roles- Which Hollywood demanded of him, unfortunately, as he was better as a witty loudmouth. But the ladies I suppose loved this guy, and so, how can a film about Cole Porter which starred Archibald "Grant" give us anything but a fictional romanticized "image" of Cole Porter? That is what we are given here.
In the beginning of the film, there are certain things that beg the question: DID this happen this way? I find myself asking "Did he really do this," or "Did this really happen?" We see that in the film, he writes the song "Night and Day" while he was recovering from a "war injury"- and that he mostly was inspired by his wife, Linda. At this point I had to start asking questions: The film takes the song Night and Day and frames it around Alexis Smith, who is actually absolutely lovely... She filmed rather well in this, Technicolor just made her utterly ravishing.
This film uses the life of Cole Porter as a platform for Archibald Leech to be as charming as he ever is. If we remove the fact that this film is allegedly "about" Cole Porter, a real person, and imagine that it is just a fiction story... Well then the film succeeds as a story, and a romantic story, which normally give me the jitters. But this film does not, it is not really, ah, "Mushy"- And as a matter of fact Grant tones down his sensuality a bit, which is actually fitting for the person he is playing. In 1946 it was utterly impossible to deal with the fact that Porter was in fact gay, and that his marriage was a marriage of convenience. But I did not know this at all until I looked here today.
There are some actual "real" autobiographical things in this film: Porter DID write songs for Yale, and especially about that Dog mascot. And of course he wrote the songs that he wrote. As for how and why he wrote them, I think that this is fictionalised. It is only the fact that Cary Grant is playing the part of Porter that we can accept the fictionalisation, but only as an enjoyable story.
Now, in fact, the song "Night and Day" was part of "The Gay Divorce" which, when finally put to film with Astaire and Rodgers, all Porter songs except "Night and day" were removed from the soundtrack: And after seeing this film, I think that was probably a kick in the teeth to Porter. And a bigger kick in the mouth, was the song "The Continental" which is basically an inferior song, actually WON an academy award. But it was not so much the song "The Continental" that won it, but the camera-work, the dancing, and the set. And of course, "The Continental" was set in the film "The Gay Divorcée" as the big musical number of the film. I wonder, if they had used whatever song Porter had written for that part of the show, and given it the treatment that they gave "The Continental" - I believe it would have won the award.
Because after seeing this quaint film - And hearing the wonderful songs Porter has written, I consider that he was one of the great songwriters of the 20th century. So, the biographical aspects of this movie fall way short of accuracy, but that does not affect the enjoyment of watching a well directed film, and a musical at that, with Cary Grant, and a lot of other very good actors, including Jane Wyman, a very smart-looking Ginny Simms, many very good specialty dancers, and of course, "Introducing Mary Martin" even though it was a small part.
Now, someone elsewhere, thought it was an oddly cast film, especially having Archie in a Musical... He is not a singer really. Other comments were that "Grant" did not resemble Porter at all, in lifestyle OR looks.
I don't know if any of this bothered the real Cole Porter, who appears to have had something to do with this film, but it does not really bother me that much. I agree with the strangeness of the cast, but in this case, it works for the film not against it. So, well mostly cos I enjoy films with "Cary Grant"/Archie Leech in them, I'll rate this a 10 but not out of generosity: I think the film, if I can break it down:
1) Looks good- the film stock is great, the colour is very good.
2) Sounds good: Very enjoyable: The music sounds very good, the dialogue is nice and clear, and does not have that "Canny" sound of studio echo. The orchestrations are very clear.
3) Well directed and acted.
So, I do not know what else to say about this: Other than, I just watched this, I actually like it a lot, and I'll watch it again next time I get a chance: And as I do not like musicals that much at all, this is the highest compliment I can give and my Hat goes off to all the people who had a hand in the production those that are still living and those who are not, and of course my hat is forever off to Cole Porter- This film makes me very interested in his literal biography.