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Carmen Jones (1954)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,832 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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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

The singing voices of Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge were dubbed by LeVern Hutcherson and Marilyn Horne respectively, even though Belafonte and Dandridge were both accomplished singers. However, neither had the training nor the range to sing operatic roles. Catherine Hilgenberg, a soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale (morphed later into the Los Angeles Master Chorale), was originally signed to sing the Carmen role, and a number of the arias were already recorded (with piano, on a separate track), when director Otto Preminger's bullying behavior became too much for her and she quit. Horne ("Jackie") was a 19-year-old music student at nearby USC. She auditioned for the part and was immediately hired - for $300. But it was a terrific break for her, and she grabbed it, and did an outstanding job, re-recording what Hilgenberg had already sung, plus the balance of the music. It's also fun to note that Horne was a singer for Tops Records, a company that made sound-alike recordings of hit records with identical arrangements (in those days arrangements could not be copyrighted) and "stand-ins" who could mimic the artists who made the hit record. Jackie Horne, later to become a major 20th-century opera star, was funding her college expenses, in part, by recording Kay Starr's hits. Starr was famous for belting out her songs with a certain razzmatazz style, and Horne's rendition was a dead-ringer. The Tops Records offices, it should be noted, were within walking distance from the USC campus. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Carmen Jones: 'Scuse my dust, gentlemen. The air's gettin' mighty unconditioned 'round here.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sing Your Song (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

STAN' UP AN' FIGHT
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on "Toreador Song"
Performed by Joe Adams (dubbed by Marvin Hayes); reprised by chorus in fight scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wonderful musical melodrama
20 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An all-black version of "Carmen". It's updated to the 1950s with wild and incredibly sexy Carmen (Dorothy Dandridge) falling for honest, nice serviceman Joe (Harry Belafonte)...and destroying him and his life.

All the singing (except for Pearl Bailey) was dubbed. Dandridge and Belafonte could definitely sing but they didn't have the voices to carry off operatic songs. This seems kind of a strange way to do "Carmen" (I mean by updating it to the 1950s) but it still works. It's colorful, full of life and never dull. BTW I HATE opera but I loved this! The dubbing seems strange (and obvious) at first but you eventually get used to it.

The acting varies. The minor roles are all well played but Belafonte seems off as Joe. He looks miserable and even though he's a tall and very handsome guy he seems no match for Dandridge. His soft voice works against him. Pearl Bailey has a small role but she's great. She dominates the screen every time she's on camera. But this is Dandridge's movie all the way. She's just great--VERY sexy and one hell of an actress. She was also the first black actress to ever be nominated as Best Actress (she didn't win). There was a LOT of infighting on the set--director Otto Preminger was known to be a dictator and he was on this movie. He had frequent screaming matches with Pearl Bailey! And Bailey HATED Dandridge--it's a credit to both of them that it doesn't show in the movie. WELL worth catching even if you hate opera. I heard some people hate this because it's done by an all black cast. That's silly---and racist.

Look for the scene on the street where Dandridge is on the street in front of a glass window--you can see the entire camera crew reflected!


8 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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