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Klaus Maria Brandauer
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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>
Although the original Broadway production had used a standard pit orchestra with Georges Bizet's orchestrations for the opera "Carmen" slightly altered by orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett, the film score was created by Herschel Burke Gilbert, the Music Director (a term he always insisted was the correct one, not "Musical Director), using a full symphony orchestra (ranging from about 90 to over 105 pieces), which enabled him to present the music with the sensibility of most of Bizet's original 1875 orchestrations as they were meant to be heard, although modified to fit the story line and transitions of the film. Because of Marilyn Horne's coming into the singing cast quite late in the production, and because of a number of unrelated delays, Gilbert had to leave the production shortly before it was completed, as he had a commitment for an original score of another film. Dimitri Tiomkin, a Fox Studio senior, as it were, stepped in to put together the last bits of recording and supervising the last music editing. Technically, especially given his seniority at Fox and his stature in the industry, he could have insisted his name be added to the credits. Graciously, he acknowledged Gilbert's responsibility for over 95% of the work and chose to not have himself officially credited. Given his much larger fame, his name in the credits would have overshadowed the younger, less known Gilbert's, and would have left the impression that Gilbert was more of an assistant, which was far from the case. See more »
Reflected in a window as Carmen is walking through town. See more »
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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