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Carmen Jones (1954)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,827 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 34 critic

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

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(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Carmen Jones (1954)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Joe
...
...
Frankie
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)
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 October 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones  »

Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Reflected in a window as Carmen is walking through town. See more »

Quotes

Joe: Thanks, but I don't drink.
Carmen Jones: Boy, if the army was made up of nothin' but soldiers like you, war wouldn't do nobody no good.
See more »

Connections

Version of A Girl Against Napoleon (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

CARD SONG
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on "Card Song" from Act 3 of the opera
Performed by Dorothy Dandridge (dubbed by Marilyn Horne (as Marilynn Horne)),
Pearl Bailey, chorus
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.


29 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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