Monday, October 3, 2016

Ultra-rare 1959 film version of "Porgy and Bess" coming to the Cinematheque on October 8

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]


“Porgy and Bess,” one of the hardest to  see films in the history of American cinema, is coming to the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque on October 8.
Otto Preminger’s 1959 adaptation of George Gershwin’s iconic folk opera, starring Sidney Poitier and Cleveland native Dorothy Dandridge, was yanked from theaters decades ago, has never been released on video or DVD, and has not been shown on TV in more than 40 years. The last time it was screened in the U.S. was nearly 10 years ago in New York City. Cinematheque director John Ewing, who has wanted to screen the movie for decades, calls it “one of the holy grails of repertory film programming.”
The passionate tale of African-American life along Catfish Row in South Carolina is a “stunning, exciting and moving film,” according to The New York Times. It features classic Gershwin songs like “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and an all-star cast, including Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll and, as an uncredited dancer, Maya Angelou. The film will be introduced and discussed by New York film historian Foster Hirsch, author of the 2007 biography Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King and probably the world’s foremost authority on the movie. Hirsch was also instrumental in getting this long suppressed film added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.
What: “Porgy and Bess” (shown in a 35mm print from Europe that has Finnish and Swedish subtitles; 138 minutes; not rated)
When: 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
Where: Peter B. Lewis Theater, Cleveland Institute of Art, 11610 Euclid Ave.
Tickets: $25; $20 Cinematheque members, CIA & CSU ID holders, and those age 25 & under. Advance tickets at
More info: call 216-421-7450 or send an email to

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