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 »
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
Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey were also reluctant to be in the film, until they heard that Poitier and Sammy Davis, Jr. were going to be in it. Sammy Davis, Jr. was the only one of the four leads who was actually eager to play his role in the movie. See more »
Thank god. Thank god.
I've been sick, ain't I?
You've been very sick. Now, I've got you back.
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Although this film has never been officially released on any home media format, numerous bootleg copies, running 115 minutes, are available on VHS and DVD-R. The full-length original version runs 138 minutes, not including overture and entr'acte music. See more »
I had the privilege recently of viewing what is said to be the last 35mm, Technicolor, stereo print and found it much livelier and more touching than remembered. Also closer to the original material -- basically, all screenwriter N. Richard Nash did was trim, change much recitative to spoken dialog, and insert a transitional scene or two (including a very amusing one for Pearl Bailey). Oliver Smith's production design is stagy in the "Li'l Abner"-"Guys and Dolls" '50s adaptation mode, but it works well for this work's folkloric, unrealistic quality. Stereotyping and racism are present, but not to a wince-inducing degree. Further, for a movie of its time, it's pretty frank -- the adultery, violent behavior, drug use, and self-destructive habits of the denizens of Catfish Row are not at all minimized in the telling. But there are debits, beginning with all that variation from the stage text. The loss of so much compromises Gershwin's brilliance -- no wonder the family doesn't like it. The reorchestration, especially of Sammy Davis Jr.'s material, is disconcertingly trendy and vulgar. George knew what he was doing, folks; you didn't have to mess with it so much. And while Poitier and Dandridge act well and their singing doubles sing well, there's a huge chasm between the characters' singing and speaking voices -- you're constantly aware of the artifice. What really counts here, of course, is the music, among the greatest ever written for the theater, anywhere. Despite all the tinkering, it survives,and you'd have to be made of stone not to be moved by it. If the treatment isn't entirely to the estate's liking (and it shouldn't be), there's still no reason not to spend some bucks to restore this ambitious filming of Gershwin's masterpiece and make new generations more aware of his genius.
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