Filmed in 1942-1943 in Roman studios and on location in Spain .
....but it does not really sound Spanish for all that :besides,Jean Marais -one of my favorite French actors- ,like Glenn Ford in "the loves of Carmen" - is not Latin at all:hence the necessity to make him up outrageously with dubious results;on the other hand ,Viviane Romance's ,(along with Ginette Leclerc ,par excellence the ideal femmes fatales ) choice is perfect ,the part was tailor-made for her.
Based on Bizet's opera (omitting the Michaela character) and on Mérimée's novel ,Christian -Jaque directs a Carmen by the numbers,using now and then Bizet's music ,particularly " La Garde Montante " with a deployment of troops,pageantry worthy of the folklore for tourists.Nobody sings ,and the only aria with is heard is the obligatory "'Air Du Toréador".
Fortunately ,Christian-Jaque ,whose know-how never deserted him ,favors Mérimée over Bizet."It was meant to be" is Carmen's motto ,a femme fatale who knows she won't escape from a fate which is written in the cards ;the scenes with Madame Marguerite Moreno as the fortune- teller are a true delight for the cine-buffs :this actress can outshine everyone on the screen when she appears ,weren't it only for some minutes.
The office Catholique Du Cinema forbade the movie to their flock ;the lines are full of saucy sexual innuendos :the bandits regretting they couldn't share the young girl's dowry (and virginity) was a scene too many for them;and if it were not enough,the outlaws,disguised as priests ,ask the travelers to put their money and jewels under saint Cunegonde's wing ,that it to say in their Bible/box;the final scenes ,when Marais asks a priest to give him absolution is too little too late ;it's possible that this edifying scene was imposed upon him by the producers .
In the field of the literary adaptation,Christian-Jaque would do much better with Maupassant's "Boule De Suif"(1945)
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