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"Times Have Changed": Re-Envisioning the Artist Hero
Songwriter Cole Porter is unusual in having had two biopics made based on his life: Night and Day (1946) starring Cary Grant, and De-Lovely (2004), starring Kevin Kline. The differences in the treatment of the character of Cole Porter between the films are striking, and indicate a change in the way that society envisions its artists, and the very act of creativity. Night and Day was conceived partly as a showcase of Porter's songs, but also as a means of providing inspiration to soldiers returning wounded from World War II, based on Porter's recovery from a traumatic riding accident. It depicts Porter as an everyman following a trajectory of achievement from little to success that was positioned as easily emulatable. De-Lovely, on the other hand, is more about the relationship between Porter and his wife Linda, and the way that his creativity was influenced by his changing relationships with various people. Drawing on the work on biopics of scholars such as G.F.Custen, this paper will use these biopics as case studies to examine the representation of changing concepts of the artist and the act of creativity through Hollywood film.