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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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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

This was renowned title designer Saul Bass's first film. See more »

Goofs

The story takes place circa 1944, but all of the women's fashions and hairstyles are strictly 1954; when Carmen & Frankie are talking outside the Chicago Pawn Shop, 1950s era automobiles passing by can clearly be seen reflected in the showcase window. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in Macked, Hammered, Slaughtered and Shafted (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

MY JOE
(uncredited)
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on aria "Micaëla's Air" from Act 3 of the opera
Sung by Olga James
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the classics of African-American cinema
2 April 2000 | by mctheimerSee 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.


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