Porgy & Bess

I was surprised to discover I can’t just go out and buy a copy of the movie Porgy & Bess (1959) a musical interpretation by Samuel Goldwyn/Otto Preminger of George and Ira Gershwin’s oft-performed opera. The song It Ain’t Necessarily So is a favorite on one of my more frequently listened to podcasts, Freethought Radio. The movie version of the song is sung by Sammy Davis Jr. who plays the part of the pimp Sporting Life in movie.

Sammy Davis Jr – It Ain´t Necessarily So

Any attempt to find a print of Porgy and Bess turns into an epic exercise in bafflement and frustration. The movie is coveted by aficionados even though few see outstanding artistic merit in it. But those very flaws help explain why this film has been charged with emotion for nearly everyone with a connection to it (and why stage revivals, like a 2012 Broadway production, reignite new rounds of controversy): The history of Porgy is a tangled tale of good artistic intentions gone awry and lasting recriminations among the Gershwin and Goldwyn factions.


The top-billed stars only appeared in the film reluctantly, the producer was crushed by the poor reception the movie got at the box office, and the Gershwins were said to hate the movie as well. There is a PAL DVD version from Spain that is available second hand, but I would really just like to see it, not spend a fortune to own a rare copy of it.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.

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