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Porgy and Bess (1959)

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In this legendary Gershwin opera set among the black residents of a fishing village in 1912 South Carolina, Bess - a woman with a disreputable history - tries to break free from her brutish... See full summary »


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Title: Porgy and Bess (1959)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Scott ...
Ruth Attaway ...
Everdinne Wilson ...
Joel Fluellen ...
Earl Jackson ...
Moses LaMarr ...
Margaret Hairston ...


In this legendary Gershwin opera set among the black residents of a fishing village in 1912 South Carolina, Bess - a woman with a disreputable history - tries to break free from her brutish lover Crown after he becomes wanted for murder. The only person willing to overlook her past and offer her shelter is the crippled Porgy. Their relationship is threatened by the disapproval of the townspeople, the presence of her old drug supplier Sportin' Life - and the threatened return of Crown. Written by scgary66

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Introducing a new era in motion pictures!


Drama | Musical | Romance


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Porgy y Bess  »

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally bought as a film property by Columbia Pictures in 1942 to star an all-white cast in blackface: Al Jolson as Porgy, Rita Hayworth as Bess, and Fred Astaire as Sportin' Life. When that proved unrealistic, the property was sold to 20th Century Fox, where it was hoped to have been a follow-up to Stormy Weather (1943). Rouben Mamoulian (who directed the original Broadway play) was announced as director and the following cast was announced: Paul Robeson as Porgy, Lena Horne as Bess, Hattie McDaniel as Maria, Canada Lee as Crown, Cab Calloway as Sportin' Life and Fredi Washington as Clara. When Horne proved to be unavailable after 'Stormy Weather' and Robeson clashed with Darryl F. Zanuck due to his political beliefs following the filming of Tales of Manhattan (1942), the film was shelved until 1957 when it was bought by Samuel Goldwyn. See more »


Referenced in Hi, Mom! (1970) See more »


Street Vendors' Cries
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward
Sung by chorus members
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User Reviews

I saw this movie when I was 6 years old. One of my lifetime favorites.
21 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was/is an incredible movie, with incredible cast, music, singing, story, etc. It is a tragedy that some arrogant families (the Gerswhins or Premingers) can keep it from being available to generation after generation. I have wanted to see it again all of my life. I just found this site and read why it has not been available. Shame on these families for their pettiness. My wife is from Germany and she has never seen the movie. Neither have my step-children or my grandchildren. It is very sad that a movie of this depth and quality is not available for them to see. Where do these families get off making such a conceited, self-important, egotistical, condescending decision to prohibit generations from enjoying this film, these stars, these performances, this music! Release the video and let them world judge and enjoy!

27 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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