7.4/10
1,201
58 user 5 critic

Porgy and Bess (1959)

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 »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Carmen Jones (1954)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A new English teacher at a violent, unruly inner-city school is determined to do his job, despite resistance from both students and faculty.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

In San Francisco, a high-priced call girl is murdered and the case is assigned to Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs.

Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Martin Landau, Barbara McNair
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A traveling handyman becomes the answer to the prayers of nuns who wish to build a chapel in the desert.

Director: Ralph Nelson
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Lisa Mann
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 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
The Music Man (1962)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Harold Hill poses as a boys' band leader to con naive Iowa townsfolk.

Director: Morton DaCosta
Stars: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An ex-husband and wife team star in a musical version of 'The Taming of the Shrew'; off-stage, the production is troublesome with ex-lovers' quarrels and a gangster looking for some money owed to them.

Director: George Sidney
Stars: Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Two newly weds buy a small private island in the British Virgin Islands and live a happy life without the comforts of modern society.

Director: Pat Jackson
Stars: John Cassavetes, Virginia Maskell, Sidney Poitier
Certificate: Passed Biography | Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of the great sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who rose to fame while dealing with her love/professional rival, Frank Butler.

Directors: George Sidney, Busby Berkeley
Stars: Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Louis Calhern
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious white high school students from the slums of London's East End.

Director: James Clavell
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts
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
Go Man Go (1954)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story of Abe Saperstein and the creation of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Director: James Wong Howe
Stars: Dane Clark, Patricia Breslin, Sidney Poitier
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
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! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 June 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Porgy y 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

Sidney Poitier had adamantly refused to take the role of Porgy when offered it by Samuel Goldwyn because he felt it perpetuated stereotypes of blacks of a bygone era. However, he was convinced to accept the project by friends and colleagues because a refusal of a Samuel Goldwyn offer would probably have ended his career in films. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Queer as Folk: Pride (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

God and Me
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward
Sung by Brock Peters, Brock Peters
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
It Ain't Necessarily So
16 May 1999 | by (Lexington, Kentucky) – See all my reviews

The Seattle International Film Festival was fortunate enough to arrange a screening of a recently discovered 70mm print, going so far as to fly it in from Germany. It was a bit faded, the sound could stand to be remastered, scores of frames are missing, and it has German subtitles, but all in all it was a special treat to see a film unlikely ever to be made publicly available again.

But I'm rather mystified as to why the rights are still in dispute. There's nothing overly offensive here, neither politically nor artistically. Unfortunately, neglect and apathy are probably to blame... it must be said that, while notable, the film itself fails to fully communicate the passion of this most American of operas. It's more of a historical artifact now.

The audience was most delighted by Sammy Davis, Jr. in a role that seems to have been conceived specifically for him. Rarely has an actor been so perfectly suited for a part. Unfortunately, Mr. Davis' persona eventually overwhelms the character- but one can't be certain if this is due more to his actual performance or to the peculiar place our image of him now occupies in popular culture.

Sidney Poitier was 10-15 years too young for Porgy, but acquits himself nicely (though he is dubbed less than precisely). Dorothy Dandridge is just right- but is denied Bess' climatic scene, which takes place offscreen. Best of all is Pearl Bailey, who gets only a few chances to make an impression but takes full advantage of them. The scene in which she is interrogated by the policemen is so funny, it practically derails the movie.

The songs have been pared down, some making only a cursory appearance, and the staging is static. These choices, commercial in nature, rob the film of the power it should have. Perhaps another movie will one day do justice to the opera.

In this "Porgy and Bess", the portrait of Catfish Row is what is most moving. This community mourns, celebrates together and protects itself from outsiders. When the detective grumbles "nobody lives here", it's quite apparent why the inhabitants of Catfish Row would want him to believe that.


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

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?