Night and Day (1946): Curtiz’s Fictionalized Biopic of Gay Composer Cole Porter Starring Cary Grant

Cary Grant plays the gay composer Cole Porter Night and Day, an embarrassingly fictionalized and corny biography of the brilliant musician, directed by Michael Curtiz.

Covering the years 1912 to 1946, the story begins during Porter’s undergraduate days at Yale, where he participated in amateur theatricals under the tutelage of waspish professor Monty Woolley (playing himself).

Though Porter’s inherited wealth could have kept him out of WWI, he signs up as an ambulance driver. While serving in France, he meets nurse Linda Lee (Alexis Smith), who becomes his wife.

Focusing his attentions on Broadway and the London stage in the postwar years, Porter pens a string of hit songs, including “Just One of Those Things,” “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Begin the Beguine,” and the title number.

The composition of this last song is one of the film’s highlights, as Porter, inspired by the “drip drip drip” of an outsized rainstorm, runs to the piano and cries “I think I’ve got it!”

The film’s dramatic conflict arises when Porter is crippled for life in a polo accident. Refusing to have his legs amputated, he makes an inspiring comeback.

Night and Day contains guest appearances of such musical talents as Mary Martin (doing her striptease number “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”), Ginny Simms, as an ersatz Ethel Merman named Carole Hill, Jane Wyman as Porter’s pre-nuptial sweetheart Gracie Harris.

The film was plagued by problems due to the ongoing animosity between star Grant and director Michael Curtiz.

Cole Porter’s well-known homosexuality was completely taken out of the screenplay.

Oscar Nominations:

Scoring of Musical: Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Morris Stoloff for another biopic, “The Jolson Story.”

 

Credits

Running time:128 minutes.

Directed by Michael Curtiz

Written by Charles Hoffman and Leo Townsend

Released: August 3, 1946

DVD: June 1, 2004

Warner