When Cary Played Cole: Night and Day

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The idea for a musical about Cole Porter’s life actually came from another composer: Irving Berlin.

Porter and more specifically his wife were cautious about the concept initially. However, after being granted script approval, he accepted Warner’s offer on Valentine’s Day 1943. The studio paid $300 thousand to select 35 songs from Porter's catalog which they could include. It was money well spent, as the film became a hit, grossing more than $14 million.

1. Alexis Smith was star struck.

Smith was an established actress, and yet even she was a fan of Cary Grant, captivated anytime he appeared on the silver screen. Her first Night and Day scene with Grant included a kiss followed by her line of dialogue. However, there was a slight problem after the kiss. “I couldn’t remember my name, much less my line,” she said. “He was mesmerizing and very exciting.”

2. Grant was a perfectionist.

He was known to walk around the sets and examine the extras and costimes in his movies to ensure that each detail fit, especially in period pieces. For Night and Day, Cary’s suggestions lead to set changes to ensure authenticity. Interestingly, Night and Day was his first Technicolor film.

3. Cole Porter liked his portrayal.

And who wouldn’t want Cary Grant to play him? However, Grant was hard on his performance, given his respect for the music legend who he saw as “probably the world’s best-known living composer of contemporary music.” But while Grant had doubts, Porter enjoyed seeing him play the part, especially since he had requested him. “[Porter] appeared genuinely pleased about the picture, and frequently invited me to his home and many entertaining parties there,” Grant said.