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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 <email@example.com>
I believe the other reviewer misses the point. This film was a fascinating experiment in restaging and updating an opera "warhorse." Imagine a Hollywood studio trying to do something like this today? Unthinkable.
The basic story line is classic - man, woman, betrayal, death. I find the musical renderings of Bizet's tunes most interesting. (Dmitri Tiomkin was one of the musical directors (uncredited).) The original lyrics aren't all that interesting, so re-writing the words doesn't seem to me of much consequence. I could wish, however, that the singing and acting were better. (Except for Carmen -- Marilyn Horne!!)
The race thing doesn't trouble me at all. The original 'Carmen' was set in the Seville underclass, so this transformation to America of the 1920s made perfect sense. And it gave a lot of black actors a good gig!
Opera stage directors and designers often set operas in modern times. Shakespeare's plays are often reset into modern times. Remember Ethan Hawkes' "Hamlet?" We should encourage these revitalization attempts. After all, they are, in a very real sense, truly creative works.
Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail, but films like 'Carmen Jones' exemplify a vital history of 'Americanizing' the sometimes stale European 'high art' ideal into more readily digestible fare. This maybe isn't the greatest movie ever made, but c'mon! Give Hollywood a break. They were trying to DO something, so let's give some credit for a good attempt.
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