Porgy and Bess screens in LA

MatthewLouwrens

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Adam - Have you seen Porgy and Bess before, or is this an opportunity for you to cross another AFI film off?

I wish I lived in LA.
Stupid New Zealand.
 

Adam_S

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No
Yes
moreso I want to see a movie I didn't have access to at USC.
plus it is old movie in a theatre on 35, love that.

of course being in LA I usually have to chose which of half a dozen AFI or S&S films (or other rarities or films of interest) per month I should try to get to. Sadly I only get to one or two every other month... Think I'll try to get to a screening of Gone with the Wind at the end of the month.
 

MatthewA

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From what I understand the negative is in a disgraceful shape and must be restored before anything can be done.
 

KellyBo

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According to a story in today's L.A. Times (10/2), film historian Ken Kramer is supplying a rare print which he complied from three separate acquisitions. This print has been only run three times in the last five years. The article goes on to say that the Gershwin estate never liked the film since they felt it was too Hollywood. In 1993 a trustee from the Gershwin estate claims "we now (the estate) acquire any prints we find and destroy them." I personally think this statement is totally idiotic. The article goes on to say they discovered a negative of PORGY AND BESS in the Goldwyn vault and permission was given for a screening. I wouldn't hold my breath for a DVD release, but anything is possible.
 

Jim*Tod

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There do seem an awful lot of roadblocks keeping PORGY AND BESS from being seen. I did notice tonight that four scenes can be viewed on UTUBE. As you might expect, the quality is terrible---- this sure is several generations removed from TODD-AO and Stereophonic sound. But if only for the performances by Pearl Bailey and Sammy Davis Jr., it is worth a look.
Those of us on the East coast need to start pushing for a screening at the AFI theatre in Silver Spring.
 

Greg_M

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"Porgy and Bess" has been screened a few times over the last ten years. Each time I believe it was Kramer's print. Maybe the film should be re-named "Ken Kramer's Porgy and Bess"
 

Andrew M

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Porgy and Bess will be shown at the Ziegfeld in Manhattan on September 26 & 27, 2007. This is in conjunction with the publication of "Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King" by Foster Hirsch. September 26th is George Gershwin's birthday, his 109th.
 

DeeF

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I'm SO excited about this, I can hardly sit still.

To clarify, it may not be a great movie, or even a very good one. But it is in many ways a LOST movie, and to actually see it in a theater is thrilling.

The opera itself might be my favorite music work.
 

Evan Case

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Had to wait until today to pre-order tickets for this (to see who else could get off work, etc.). Good thing too, because every show except Thursday at 8 p.m. was already sold out.

I figured I'd be all right, as the Ziegfeld is a huge theater, but I certainly underestimated just how many folks had been wanting to see this again. Guess 40+ years without a showing can generate some sales. Glad I didn't find out at the box office after a two-hour drive from PA.

For the record, I've no personal attachment to the film (I've never even heard the complete score), but as a film buff, this was too rare an opportunity to pass up. Oscar-winner, AFI Lists, never on home video or TV, etc. Even if the film turns out to be nothing amazing, I think this is still gonna be worth it.

I just hope the print holds up through the last show!

Evan
 

DeeF

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I thought it was a very interesting, if not fulfilling, experience.

The Ziegfield was only 20% sold, which means that 400 people were there. Apparently there were some celebrities there like Diahann Carroll, but I didn't see them.

There was an introduction by Foster Hirsch, who is the person that made this happen, apparently, so he could promote his new biography of Otto Preminger. He had the books outside in the lobby to be autographed. The intro had some good information, but it was *too long* for a movie that's already longish (2 1/2 hours) and after the movie, he spoke *again* with Mrs. Otto Preminger (whoever she is).

The movie itself sounded very good to my ears, but George heard a whistle on the soundtrack, and now Ken Bloom has mentioned the whistle too. But the picture was soft and blurry for most of the movie. I don't know whether it looks that way on the film, or whether it was just bad projection, but I thought it was out of focus. The color looked good, from what I can tell.

There are some surprisingly effective moments in the movie, and for the most part, the musical numbers are done in a single shot without a cut, which is certainly daring. But there are no closeups, and the movie needs *something,* some camera movement or directorial flourish -- it's just static and kind of flat, emotionally.

I asked about a potential DVD and was told that it would take $2.5 million to restore the elements. That seems like peanuts to me, for the Gershwins and Goldwyns. I think there isn't a DVD because of this infighting between the parties involved, as to who might pay for such a thing. And it's pretty clear that no one really likes the film, despite Foster Hirsch's cheerleading.
 

streeter

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It was only 20% sold? Was that on purpose? Because I couldn't get tickets except for tonight's showing.
 

MatthewLouwrens

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I understood it was because the Gershwins hated the film, because the characters spoke the words between the major songs, rather than sung as recitatives. Plus they used someone else to provide the musical score, rather than the music Gershwin wrote.
 

MatthewA

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I remember hearing somewhere that Preminger was afraid that the studio might try to cut down some of the songs so he shot them as long takes.

Just out of curiosity, has there ever been a commercially successful film opera?
 

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