7.1/10
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62 user 10 critic

Porgy and Bess (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 14 October 1959 (France)
A woman whose past is scorned by nearly everyone around her meets a man who'd love her regardlessly- if only everyone else would allow them to.

Directors:

Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoulian (uncredited)

Writers:

Dorothy Heyward (play), DuBose Heyward (libretto) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Stars: Jeanne Crain, Madeleine Carroll, George Sanders
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A woman with a scorned past meets a man who'd love her regardlessly- if only everyone else would allow them to.

Director: Dee Rees
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Poitier ... Porgy
Dorothy Dandridge ... Bess
Sammy Davis Jr. ... Sportin' Life
Pearl Bailey ... Maria
Brock Peters ... Crown
Leslie Scott Leslie Scott ... Jake
Diahann Carroll ... Clara
Ruth Attaway Ruth Attaway ... Serena Robbins
Claude Akins ... Detective
Clarence Muse ... Peter
Everdinne Wilson Everdinne Wilson ... Annie
Joel Fluellen Joel Fluellen ... Robbins
Earl Jackson Earl Jackson ... Mingo
Moses LaMarr Moses LaMarr ... Nelson
Margaret Hairston Margaret Hairston ... Lily
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1959 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Porgy and Bess See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Porgy: Thank god. Thank god.
Bess: I've been sick, ain't I?
Porgy: You've been very sick. Now, I've got you back.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Gone, Gone, Gone
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by DuBose Heyward
Sung by The Ken Darby Singers
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It Ain't Necessarily So Bad
16 May 2005 | by marcslopeSee all my reviews

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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