IMDb > Carmen Jones (1954)
Carmen Jones
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Carmen Jones (1954) More at IMDbPro »

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


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7.0/10   3,117 votes »
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Down 15% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
28 October 1954 (USA) See more »
Contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Dandridge, the photography, and the intention are all amazing enough to justify the rest See more (44 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Harry Belafonte ... Joe

Dorothy Dandridge ... Carmen Jones

Pearl Bailey ... Frankie
Olga James ... Cindy Lou
Joe Adams ... Husky Miller

Brock Peters ... Sergeant Brown (as Broc Peters)
Roy Glenn ... Rum Daniels
Nick Stewart ... Dink Franklin

Diahann Carroll ... Myrt
LeVern Hutcherson ... Joe (voice) (as Le Vern Hutcherson)
Marilyn Horne ... Carmen Jones (voice) (as Marilynn Horne)
Marvin Hayes ... Husky Miller (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Alvin Ailey ... Dance Soloist (uncredited)
DeForest Covan ... Trainer (uncredited)
Joseph E. Crawford ... Dink Franklin (singing voice) (uncredited)
Carmen De Lavallade ... Dance Soloist (uncredited)
Bernie Hamilton ... Reporter (uncredited)
Margaret Lancaster ... Singing Voice (uncredited)
Mauri Lynn ... Sally (uncredited)
Sam McDaniel ... Waiter (uncredited)
Bernice Peterson ... Myrt (singing voice) (uncredited)
Max Roach ... Max (uncredited)
Carmencita Romero ... Dancer (uncredited)
Archie Savage ... Dance Soloist (uncredited)
Madame Sul-Te-Wan ... Hagar - Carmen's Grandmother (uncredited)
Rubin Wilson ... Kid Pancho (uncredited)

Directed by
Otto Preminger 
Writing credits
Oscar Hammerstein II (book) (as Oscar Hammerstein 2nd)

Harry Kleiner (screenplay)

Prosper Mérimée  novel (uncredited)

Produced by
Otto Preminger .... producer
Cinematography by
Sam Leavitt (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Louis R. Loeffler 
Art Direction by
Edward L. Ilou 
John DeCuir (co-art director) (uncredited)
Set Decoration by
Claude E. Carpenter 
Costume Design by
Mary Ann Nyberg 
Production Management
Herman E. Webber .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
David Silver .... assistant director
Art Department
Saul Bass .... poster designer (uncredited)
Sound Department
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
Arthur von Kirbach .... sound (as Arthur L. Kirbach)
Gene Previdi .... sound editor (uncredited)
Sam Woodward .... sound editor (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Albert Myers .... camera operator
Robert Willoughby .... special still photographer (uncredited)
Casting Department
Lina Abarbanell .... casting consultant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Sam Benson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Music Department
Leon Birnbaum .... music editor
Georges Bizet .... music: based on "Carmen"
George Brand .... music editor
Ted Dale .... associate musical director
Herschel Burke Gilbert .... musical director
Billy Rose .... producer: Broadway musical play "Carmen Jones"
Murray Spivack .... music recordist
Vinton Vernon .... music recordist
Jester Hairston .... choral director (uncredited)
Jester Hairston .... vocal coach (uncredited)
Dimitri Tiomkin .... co-musical director (uncredited)
Other crew
Saul Bass .... title designer
John Indrisano .... fight stager
Otto Preminger .... presenter
Max Slater .... production assistant (as Maximilian Slater)
Herbert Ross .... choreographer (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones" - USA (complete title)
See more »
105 min | Argentina:108 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.55 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording) (magnetic prints) | Mono (optical prints)
Argentina:16 | Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (re-rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #17140) | West Germany:16 (f)

Did You Know?

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 »
Crew or equipment visible: Reflected in a window as Carmen is walking through town.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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Dreamgirls (2006)See more »


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Dandridge, the photography, and the intention are all amazing enough to justify the rest, 18 September 2012
Author: secondtake from United States

Carmen (1954)

First of all, this is a gorgeous movie. The WWII-era sets, the fluid photography with a lot of long takes, the lighting and costumes and overall feel are elegant and un-compromised, first frame to last.

Second, the idea is fabulous, an all-Black cast and an African-American adaptation of the classic Carmen opera (by the French composure Bizet). The vernacular and the stereotypes might seem worn, or even insulting if you take them wrong (or just take them out of context) but in fact it's in line with that even better, earlier opera, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The stereotypes are ones that made sanitized sense equally to White and Black America just as other musicals made sanitized sense to the same audiences. If I sound like an apologist, I'm only responding to attacks on the film ("farcical" "gruesome" or "dreadful"), as being untrue or insensitive to Blacks, by saying that nearly all musicals are incredibly stylized and false, and nearly all movies of this era played with safe, simplified versions of life.

No, to be fair to this really interesting movie you need to treat it like you would your own favorite movies from the 1950s, accepting the limitations just as the movie makers did. It's got its own syntax and style, it's own inner set of rules.

And within those the performance of the character Carmen by Dorothy Dandridge is incredible. She's on fire, introspective, nuanced, and outrageous. The cast around her is excellent but inevitably uneven, and she stands easily above them in pure performance energy, even over the other big star, Harry Belafonte.

All of this said, the beautiful, finely made, early widescreen movie here, "Carmen Jones," is lacking some kind of necessary intensity to work. I can't pin down why. From little strains of Bizet that perk it up (like a boxing worker whistling the most famous theme as he works) to the truly perfect photography and editing (maybe too perfect?), the movie has a steady, compelling flow. It's based on a Broadway musical from 1943 (the year the movie is set, as well), and it has the bones of a great drama, if a familiar one (it's still Bizet).

What might be the biggest problem is the understandable decision to film it in a realistic way, with song (and minimal dance) numbers inserted relatively seamlessly along the way. This is the standard musical approach from from the early Astaire-Rogers films to the relatively contemporaneous Arthur Freed productions of the early 1950s like "Singin' in the Rain." But Carmen, the opera and stage musical, is not a lighthearted romantic comedy. It isn't just escapist entertainment. And the gravitas and drama in it, at the end in particular, doesn't quite work the way it does on the opera stage. You watch Belafonte and Dandridge acting their hearts out, but it has that perfect 1950s movie-making production to remind us that it's a movie, and we are detached in a far different way than watching a stage version, with real people and false settings.

But never mind all that--you'll see for yourself how absorbed you get and why not more so.

A couple last things. First, the singing voices of the two leads are dubbed (yes!), surprising in Belafonte's case in particular because he was (and is) an accomplished singer. Second, Dandridge and director Preminger were having a longterm affair during the filming and after, and she pulls off what might be the best performance of her life here. Third, the movie was shown to the head of the NAACP before release to check on any problems that might be seen from an African-American point of view (this is 1954, remember) and no objections were raised. By this point, Preminger had been working with an all Black cast and was in close quarters with the leading lady so he must have had some sense that what he was after was on target for the time.

Watch it if you have interest in any of these things--WWII civilian life, Dandridge or Belafonte, opera adaptations into movies, early big budget African-American movies, Preminger movies, or terrific early Cinemascope photography. That should cover a lot of viewers, but not all. For me, I liked it a lot, and liked parts of it enormously (like the short clip of Max Roach drumming away on a barroom stage). But I felt slightly restless too often to get totally absorbed. One last suggestion--see it on the biggest screen you can, so it will be immersive.

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