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Carmen Jones (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 28 October 1954 (USA)
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Contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast.

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Oscar Hammerstein II (book) (as Oscar Hammerstein 2nd), Harry Kleiner (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Harry Belafonte ... Joe
Dorothy Dandridge ... Carmen Jones
Pearl Bailey ... Frankie
Olga James Olga James ... Cindy Lou
Joe Adams Joe Adams ... Husky Miller
Brock Peters ... Sergeant Brown (as Broc Peters)
Roy Glenn ... Rum Daniels
Nick Stewart Nick Stewart ... Dink Franklin
Diahann Carroll ... Myrt
LeVern Hutcherson LeVern Hutcherson ... Joe (voice) (as Le Vern Hutcherson)
Marilyn Horne Marilyn Horne ... Carmen Jones (voice) (as Marilynn Horne)
Marvin Hayes 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Otto Preminger Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording) (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Otto Preminger wanted to film on location in Chicago and South Carolina, but studio records show the movie was shot entirely on the Fox lot. One notable exception was the children's chorus scenes that were shot on location at a working dynamite factory. The parents, of course, were present, many of them sitting on boxes of explosives - idly smoking. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Frankie: We'll be livin' off the fatheads of the land.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits and end title are set around a flaming rose. See more »

Connections

Version of Kokkino-mavro Carmen (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

FINAL DUET
(uncredited)
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on "Duet and Final Chorus"
Performed by Harry Belafonte (dubbed by LeVern Hutcherson (as Le Vern Hutcherson)) and Dorothy Dandridge (dubbed by Marilyn Horne (as Marilynn Horne))
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dandridge and Bizet!
10 January 2005 | by paleolithSee all my reviews

Some greatness here. Dandridge's performance is riveting, and Pearl Bailey is a wonderful addition. Bizet's music is as appealing as always. The singers are excellent. The dancers at Billy Pastor's are another high point.

Too many slips for me to rate it a 10. It's lip-synced -- like every other movie musical, and (despite what one other reviewer said), one of the best lip-sync jobs I've seen. Only My Fair Lady does better (of those I've seen). Dandridge, Belafonte, and Bailey are particularly good; Olga James much less so. But I always find lip-syncing painfully obvious and distracting and will probably never have a chance to top-rate a movie musical as a result. It's also quite distracting when Joe breaks into song, because LeVern Hutcherson's voice is so different from Harry Belafonte's. It's a real shame that experienced singers like Dandridge and Belafonte weren't allowed to sing. Marilyn Horne, wow -- but I like the voice to match the face.

The acting is uneven. Some is excellent, led by Dandridge, and others do well too. But some of the acting is stiff.

Then there's the re-setting. Oh, moving the place is fine. It's funny that a couple of reviewers have referred to "how the Spaniards do it" and "Spanish opera". Hey, Carmen is set in Seville and Bizet attempted to use some Spanish musical idioms, but Carmen is a French opera through and through. Bizet was French, Prosper Merimee was French, the libretto is in French. But Carmen Jones only uses the top arias from Carmen, and ends up adding a lot of dialog to fill in the time. The story is true to the original, but Bizet told more in music and Hammerstein tells more in words. Oscar should have trusted Georges more.

I notice that Alvin Ailey is uncredited as a dancer. I found a couple of photos of him on the web -- it's hard, because his dance company has been so much more famous than the man, but I found a couple. I *think* I figured out which one he is -- some slo-mo work there -- but most of the dancers' faces don't come into focus for long enough to know for sure. It would be mostly a curiosity to know, since the movie doesn't show enough of the dance to see any personal style.


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