Cinematheque presents Porgy and Bess: John Ewing

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Porgy and Bess at Cinematheque
Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Cleveland Institute of Art, Peter B. Lewis Theater

The Cinematheque is proud to present the first American screening in nine years of Otto Preminger’s almost-impossible-to-see film version of George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. It’s never been issued on video or DVD and hasn’t even been shown on TV since the early 1970s, including TCM. Virtually a lost film, the movie is now controlled by the George Gershwin estate, which rarely allows screenings. But Cinematheque has been granted one on the occasion of their 30th anniversary this year, and because Dorothy Dandridge, the female lead, was from Cleveland. The rest of the black cast, playing residents of Catfish Row, is equally stellar: Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, and Brock Peters. One of the dancers is Maya Angelou. Nominated for four Academy Awards, the film won the Oscar for Best Score of a Musical Picture. It will be shown in a 35mm color & scope print imported from Europe. Porgy and Bess will be introduced and discussed by Otto Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch, who probably knows more about the movie than anybody alive. Hirsch, a professor at Brooklyn College, has written over 15 books on American cinema and the theater, and is an ardent champion of the film, which he calls “a sensitive, commanding interpretation of a great work.” Hirsch was instrumental in getting the film listed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011, and he also cleared the last public screening of the movie (in New York City in 2007), as well as ours. 138 min. Special admission $25; members, CIA & CSU I.D. holders, and those age 25 & under $20; no passes, twofers, or radio winners.

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