MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 123 this week

Porgy and Bess (1959)

7.5
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,091 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 5 critic

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 »

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(play), (libretto), 2 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 32 titles
created 22 Aug 2011
 
a list of 29 titles
created 16 May 2012
 
a list of 25 titles
created 18 Feb 2013
 
a list of 35 titles
created 20 Jun 2013
 
a list of 21 titles
created 25 Sep 2013
 

Related Items

Search for "Porgy and Bess" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Porgy and Bess (1959)

Porgy and Bess (1959) on IMDb 7.5/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Porgy and Bess.

User Polls

Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

The man called Obam struggles with the increasingly hostile forces facing each other in a colonial African country. The African natives want their land and lives back from the British ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Audley
Stars: Eartha Kitt, Sidney Poitier, Juano Hernandez
The Fan (1949)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Lord Windermere appears to all -including to his young wife Margaret - as the perfect husband. But their happy marriage is placed at risk when Lord Windermere starts spending his afternoons... See full summary »

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Madeleine Carroll, George Sanders
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A substantial insurance payment could mean either financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family.

Director: Daniel Petrie
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A white family has had the same black maid for many years. When she tells them she wants to go back to school and will be leaving soon, the 20ish year old son decides what she needs is a ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln, Beau Bridges
Saint Joan (1957)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Young Joan of Arc comes to the palace in France to make The Dauphin King of France and is appointed to head the French Army. After winning many battles she is not needed any longer and soon... See full summary »

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Richard Widmark, Richard Todd, Anton Walbrook
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

It is a toss-up as to who is most displeased when Patrolman Moe Finkelstein is given the duty of guarding the German consulate ran by Karl Baumer; neither Moe nor Baumer are too happy with ... See full summary »

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Joan Bennett, Milton Berle, Otto Preminger
Certificate: GP Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Junie Moon's face has been disfigured by ill-gotten burns, and depends on her friends and her wit to cope. She, Warren, and Arthur leave the hospital - they yearn for independence - and ... See full summary »

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Liza Minnelli, Ken Howard, Robert Moore
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Dr. Matt Younger and his daughter arrive for a month-long visit to London for dirt-bike racing and unexpectedly, a new romance for the widowed Dr. Younger. His new love interest is the ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Poitier
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Ester Anderson, Yvette Curtis
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

San Francisco Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs is called in to investigate when a liberal street preacher and political candidate is accused of murdering a prostitute. Tibbs is also battling ... See full summary »

Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Martin Landau, Barbara McNair
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Evan and Tina want to live their lives differently. They go to live on an island. Tina's mother is concerned about her daughter's future. There is smuggling going on on the island.

Director: Pat Jackson
Stars: John Cassavetes, Virginia Maskell, Sidney Poitier
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Hardy Krüger, Johannes Heesters, Johanna Matz
Tamango (1958)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A Dutch slave captain, on a voyage to Cuba, faces a revolt fomented by a newly captured African slave, Tamango. The slaves capture the captain's mistress, forcing a showdown.

Director: John Berry
Stars: Dorothy Dandridge, Curd Jürgens, Jean Servais
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Maria
...
Leslie Scott ...
...
Ruth Attaway ...
...
Detective
...
Peter
Everdinne Wilson ...
Annie
Joel Fluellen ...
Earl Jackson ...
Moses LaMarr ...
Margaret Hairston ...
Lily
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

Introducing a new era in motion pictures!

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Porgy und Bess  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the last film to be produced by Samuel Goldwyn. See more »

Connections

Version of Live from Lincoln Center: Porgy and Bess (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

O Doctor Jesus
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward
Sung by Ruth Attaway (dubbed by Inez Matthews)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Fine adaptation of classic American Opera.

There are those who gripe that this is NOT the opera, but then they don't quibble with the film of CABARET that was not the original show either. All films of musicals/operas are and have to be "adaptations" or they don't work. CABARET took more liberties with the original show than did the film of PORGY AND BESS and yet it kept its original integrity, reworking the material, and is judged an artistic success. The same holds true for PORGY AND BESS- it reworked the opera into a dialogue/song libretto because audiences at the time loved musicals but stayed away from the few echt filmed operas. It would have been economical suicide for Preminger to produce a film of the opera - it would have lost a fortune for the Goldwyn Studios.

That said, this is a fine adaptation. The acting is excellent, the Oscar winning scoring of Andre Previn is magnificent, as is the choral singing, and the individual vocal achievements are incredible. Robert McFerrin (dad of popular musician Bobby McFerrin) dubbed Porgy and Adele Addison dubbed Bess. While Sammy Davis Jr. sang his own songs in the film, his recording contract would not permit his voice to be heard on the soundtrack album, so Cab Calloway recorded his numbers (spectacularly) for that release. Brock Peters' bass/baritone is extraordinary and Pearl Bailey is her own unique self. Diahann Carroll, although a singer of fine note, has the small role of Clara which required a high soprano, so old reliable Marni Nixon dubbed her singing.

The Gershwin Estate hates the film and refuses to grant the musical rights, although the dramatic rights are in the public domain. This sort of hate feud held up the video release of CAROUSEL for almost fifteen years (although in that case it was the dramatic rights that were in litigation) and is currently preventing both PORGY AND BESS and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN from being released on video.

Of all the stage productions given film versions, it is these latter two which are the sole holdouts to video. Only a campaign of letters to the Gershwin Estate in NY might loosen up the reserve.


16 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Remake it with Fantasia Barrino as Bess ironbutterfly
Film no longer exists? zlestatz
Wait list for release on DVD Acapulqueno
In a theater jkm1978
National Film Registry jrhodes84
TCM Poll jrhodes84
Discuss Porgy and Bess (1959) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?