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porgy and bess


The citizens of the Catfish Row neighborhood are relaxing in the Charleston heat. Clara comforts her baby with a lullaby while a group of men throw dice. Crown, a hot-headed drug addict, joins the game of craps. In a drunken fit of passion, Crown kills another gambler, then flees the scene, leaving his lover Bess behind. As the crowd waits for the police, only Porgy, a disabled beggar, is kind to Bess.

A month later, Porgy and Bess have found happiness together. Bess refuses dope from the drug dealer Sportin’ Life, who invites her to go to New York with him; Porgy chases Sportin’ Life away from Bess. Bess and the community enjoy a church picnic on nearby Kittiwah Island; Porgy stays behind in Catfish Row. When it is time to catch the steamboat home from Kittiwah, Bess is cornered by Crown, who has been hiding on the island since the murder. Crown wants Bess to come away with him, but Bess explains that she’s with Porgy now. Crown won’t take no for an answer.

A week has passed; a storm is on the horizon. Bess has been feverish since her return from Kittiwah Island. Bess tells Porgy that she can’t refuse Crown if he comes for her; Porgy tells Bess that he will protect her. The next day, the residents of Catfish Row gather to pray for safety from the oncoming hurricane. There is a knock at the door: Crown has come to claim Bess. The group watches a boat capsize and Crown rushes out to try to save a drowning man.

The following evening, the women mourn for those lost in the storm. They assume Crown is among the dead, but that night he sneaks back to steal Bess away. Porgy kills Crown and is taken to jail. Sportin’ Life takes advantage of Porgy’s absence and tempts Bess into taking dope. A week later, Porgy returns from jail to find that Bess has gone to New York with Sportin’ Life. Undaunted, Porgy sets out in search of Bess.