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Carmen Jones (1954)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Musical, Romance  |  28 October 1954 (USA)
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Reviews: 44 user | 34 critic

Contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast.



(book) (as Oscar Hammerstein 2nd) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Carmen Jones (1954)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Olga James ...
Cindy Lou
Joe Adams ...
Sergeant Brown (as Broc Peters)
Roy Glenn ...
Rum Daniels
Nick Stewart ...
LeVern Hutcherson ...
Joe (voice) (as Le Vern Hutcherson)
Marilyn Horne ...
Carmen Jones (voice) (as Marilynn Horne)
Marvin Hayes ...
Husky Miller (voice)


At an all-black army camp, civilian parachute maker and "hot bundle" Carmen Jones is desired by many of the men. Naturally, she wants Joe, who's engaged to sweet Cindy Lou and about to go into pilot training for the Korean War. Going after him, she succeeds only in getting him into the stockade. While she awaits his release, trouble approaches for both of them. Songs from the Bizet opera with modernized lyrics. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Musical | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 October 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones  »

Box Office


$750,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording) (magnetic prints)| (optical prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Eartha Kitt was offered the role of Carmen, but the studio wanted her singing voice to be dubbed, so that her character would have an operatic voice. The same offer was made to Harry Belafonte and Diahann Carroll who accepted, but Kitt refused, wanting to use her natural voice. Dubbing was not required for Pearl Bailey, whose own voice suited her comedic songs. See more »


Carmen fixes Joe's belt, but in doing so she skips a belt loop. In the next scene the belt is worn correctly. See more »


Frankie: Somethin' tells me Chicago's gonna be real good for you.
Myrt: Somethin' tells me you gonna be real bad for Chicago.
See more »


Referenced in Preminger: Anatomy of a Filmmaker (1991) See more »


Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Dorothy Dandridge (dubbed by Marilyn Horne (as Marilynn Horne))
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the classics of African-American cinema
2 April 2000 | by (Bellevue, Washington, USA) – See all my reviews

This film shows just how much talent existed and was mostly unused because of the small number of pictures made with African-American casts during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

It's a remake of Bizet's "Carmen", and was originally performed on Broadway in the 1940's. Otto Preminger filmed the play during the 1950's. The songs all retain Bizet's original music, but the lyrics have been updated to English. If you've never seen the opera, and are intimidated by opera in general, this film would actually be a good introduction to the topic.

The plot is moved from a Spanish village during the late 1800's to the American South during WWII. The cigarette factory is now a parachute factory, and the bullfighter is now a prize fighter. Generally, I thought the update was done well, just as some Shakespearean updates work well. The only part which doesn't work for me is that some of the dialogue and lyrics are in what I think of as "Porgy and Bess Ebonics", e.g. "dees", "dem", "dat", etc.

Carmen is played by Dorothy Dandridge, who is known as the African-American Marilyn Monroe. The two women's lives sadly parallel each other, although Dandridge could find even fewer scripts to show off her acting talents. Harry Belafonte plays the seduced male lead. Both are stunning beautiful, and at their prime.

All of the singing voices are dubbed by first rank operatic voices; the songs for Carmen Jones are dubbed by Marilyn Horne, for example.

The tragedy is realizing how many great actors and actresses could have had brilliant careers except for their skin color. It was interesting and sad to watch the Movietone Newsreel coverage of the premiere, which came attached to the copy of the tape I had. It features all of the white movie stars attending the premiere, the white studio heads -- and just happens to have a second or two of Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge at the end.

31 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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