Harry Belafonte refused the role of Porgy in the film, although he recorded selections from the score the same year.

After a fire on a soundstage destroyed most of the sets, original director Rouben Mamoulian suggested that it be filmed on location in South Carolina. Sam Goldwyn was against location filming and fired Mamoulian, considering the request a disloyalty.

André Previn won the film's only Oscar for adapting the score.

Much of the music was omitted from the film, and many of Gershwin's orchestrations were either changed or completely scrapped.

George Gershwin's estate intensely dislikes the film because of the changes to the score.

The film was shown once on television in 1967 and was pulled from release in 1974. The Gershwin estate is on record as saying that they actively buy prints of the film and destroy them. The film can now only be viewed in archives or on bootleg videos.

In 2011, the film was among the films inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

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