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Film Classic “Porgy and Bess”
Makes Its Modern-Day Theatrical Debut at Clearview Cinemas’ Legendary Ziegfeld Theatre

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Turner Classic MoviesDate: 16.08.2009
Clearview Cinemas today announced that it will feature "Porgy and Bess" for a two-night only special showing, back on the big screen at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on September 26 and 27 [2007, ed], starting at 8:00 p.m.

An award-winning film classic, "Porgy and Bess" first debuted in New York City in 1959. During its day, "Porgy and Bess" garnered four Oscar nominations and one win for Best Music, along with a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical. Now, for the first time in nearly 50 years, "Porgy and Bess" again makes its theatrical debut with a special screening, followed by an engaging discussion on the film and its director, presented by film professor and author Foster Hirsch.

“Clearview’s Ziegfeld Theatre is a classic and historic venue ideal for an exclusive screening of a classic and historic film—a film brought back from the vault to the big screen once again,” said Craig Zeltner, vice president of film, Clearview Cinemas. “And what better way for moviegoers to experience and enjoy "Porgy and Bess" than with the added insight of film expert Foster Hirsch.”

Hirsch is a film professor at Brooklyn College and author of the soon-to-be-released biography about the film’s director, Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would be King, which will be available on October 21. As a special treat for moviegoers, after each showing, Hirsch will discuss more about "Porgy and Bess" and its legendary, albeit controversial, director Otto Preminger. Throughout his career, Preminger’s serenely balanced style of moviemaking contradicted his fiery personality, and led to some of the most enduring pictures in film history.

“The screening of "Porgy and Bess" at the Ziegfeld Theatre is a unique opportunity to see a great ‘lost’ film in one of New York’s great theatres, Clearview’s Ziegfeld,” said Hirsch. “The film to be shown is an original roadshow print, with overture, intermission music and exit music. It is the only known complete print of the film in the United States.”

"Porgy and Bess" is based on the musical by George Gershwin, from the novel Porgy by DuBose Heyward and the play Porgy by Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. The film was produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by Otto Preminger. The star-studded cast includes Sidney Poitier as Porgy, Dorothy Dandridge as Bess and Sammy Davis, Jr. as Sportin’ Life. First released in 1959, "Porgy and Bess" is set among the African-American residents of a fishing village called Catfish Row 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.

Tickets are on sale now at the Ziegfeld Theatre box office at 141 West 54th Street in New York City and online at

The print of "Porgy and Bess" comes courtesy of Ken Kramer’s The Clip Joint for Film in Burbank, California.
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The news article for the "Porgy & Bess" screening actually relates to a screening that was held nearly two years ago (which I attended). The article is credited to Turner Classic Movies, but if you check the TCM web site, you will not find this article on the news page. In addition, the article says that tickets are currently on sale, but if you check the Clearview Cinemas web site, you will not find any information on a "Porgy & Bess" screening.

David C. Olstein, New York

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Updated 07-01-21