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Carmen Jones

Carmen Jones

4.1 6
Director: Otto Preminger

Cast: Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Olga James


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In 1943, Oscar Hammerstein Jr. took Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, rewrote the lyrics, changed the characters from 19th century Spaniards to World War II-era African-Americans, switched the locale to a Southern military base, and the result was Carmen Jones. Dorothy Dandridge stars as Carmen Jones, tempestuous employee of a parachute factory. Harry


In 1943, Oscar Hammerstein Jr. took Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, rewrote the lyrics, changed the characters from 19th century Spaniards to World War II-era African-Americans, switched the locale to a Southern military base, and the result was Carmen Jones. Dorothy Dandridge stars as Carmen Jones, tempestuous employee of a parachute factory. Harry Belafonte plays Joe (originally José), a young military officer engaged to marry virginal Cindy Lou (Olga James). When Carmen gets into a fight with another girl, she is placed under arrest and put in Joe's charge. Succumbing to her attractiveness, Joe accompanies Carmen to her old neighborhood, where, after killing a sergeant sent to retrieve him, he deserts the army. Carmen tries to be faithful, but fortune-telling Frankie (Pearl Bailey) warns her that she and her soldier are doomed. Enter Joe Adams in the role of boxer Husky Miller (a play on Carmen's bullfighter Escamillo), who sweeps Carmen off her feet, ultimately with tragic consequences. Alhough both Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte were singers, their opera voices were dubbed in by LeVern Hutcherson and Marilyn Horne.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Carmen Jones is a fine film whose luster is enhanced by the performance of Dorothy Dandridge. Her Best Actress Oscar nomination was the first for an African-American performer in that category. Although Dandridge was a fine singer with a successful night club career, her voice wasn't "operatic" enough to suit studio execs who dubbed her singing voice with that of opera singer Marilyn Horne. It was unusual in the 1950s for a film with an all-black cast to be marketed to white audiences. Tight studio control kept the production costs to a manageable $750,000, but it would be three years before Dandridge made another film, and another five years before a similar project, Porgy and Bess, would be attempted. Seen today, the story creaks a bit, but Dandridge elevates the film considerably.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dorothy Dandridge Carmen Jones
Harry Belafonte Joe
Olga James Cindy Lou
Pearl Bailey Frankie
Diahann Carroll Myrt
Nick Stewart Dink Franks
Joe Adams Husky Miller
Brock Peters Sgt. Brown
Sandy Lewis T-Bone
Mauri Lynn Sally
DeForest Covan Trainer
Le Vern Hutcherson Joe [singing]
Marilyn Horne Carmen [singing]
Roy E. Glenn Rum Daniels

Technical Credits
Otto Preminger Director,Producer
Claude E. Carpenter Set Decoration/Design
Herschel Burke Gilbert Musical Direction/Supervision
Oscar Hammerstein Songwriter
Edward Ilou Art Director
Harry Kleiner Screenwriter
Sam Leavitt Cinematographer
Louis Loeffler Editor
Mary Ann Nyberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Herbert Ross Choreography


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Carmen Jones 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although it’s been some time since I last saw this film, it is on my "must have" list based on the wonderful musical score, the charismatic leads, and its importance as a vehicle for Black American talent at a time when racial discrimination was rife. Dandridge would have been a true Hollywood success story had her years in Hollywood been today. America was still hesitant to give black performers key roles in motion pictures. True, we had films such as Cabin in the Sky (1943) but where did that film go to? Otto Preminger must be credited for taking a big chance in making this all-black picture concerning Carmen Jones, who works in a parachute factory, and the soldier, Belafonte, who must escort her to the magistrate when she has broken the law. Dorothy Dandridge nailed this role as Carman Jones. She is catty, seductive, and has her men wrapped around her finger. Harry Belafonte is sensational as Joe, the naive soldier who becomes prey to Carman. It's interesting to watch Joe trying to tame the wild tendencies of Carman, while a love triangle grows outside of their relationship. It's like watching a cat on a hot tin roof. (oops, another great movie.) An added plus is the wonderful production numbers with dance choreography and songs. The costume, wardrobe, and props reflect the culture of city slickers and country folks, presenting the differences in lifestyles among characters. These differences became evident in Dorothy Dandridge performance, and earn her an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Halle Berry's Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in Monster's Ball reminded me of just how far we have come and how long it has taken to reach this stage of the journey! If you haven't yet seen Carmen Jones - take the time to view this milestone in American cinema history - you won't be disappointed.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
High drama. Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge give great performances. You should also enjoy Pearl Bailey's wonderful singing voice. This movie has a nice plot as well as good character development. This is the story of classic "love." Dorothy Dandridge as a sultry factory worker seducing a young Harry Belafonte is worth a look-see.
nazareth62 More than 1 year ago
There are 2 kinds of people in the world-those who seek out the good and those who can't wait to critisize and point out everything that's wrong with something! This is a Hollywood musical-it's not meant to be Bizet's opera and if you approach it with the idea that it is you're going to be disappointed! Contrived? Of course it's contrived!-how often have you known anybody to break out in song when they are being carted off to jail. Again it's a Hollywood musical not Shakespeare! This film is great for an evening of escapism! See it, enjoy the music and draw your own conclusions. As far as it being filled with stereotypes-it's a film from a different time in America and not wanting to face that time doesn't change what it was! There will always be people in the world who wake up in the morning and can't wait to be offended by something or someone! See this film-it's great entertainment and entertainment is the key word here!
Guest More than 1 year ago
''Carmen Jones'' might have been ahead of its time in 1954, but it hasn't aged well. In an apparent effort to copy the success of George Gershwin's ''Porgy and Bess,'' famed musical writer Oscar Hammerstein 2nd ''modernized'' Bizet's opera ''Carmen'' with an all-black cast. Here, the story is that a Southern soldier's (Harry Belafonte) plans to marry his hometown sweetheart are sidetracked by orders to transport a feisty camp worker (Dorothy Dandridge in the title role) to a civilian jail. Carmen has a seamy reputation to which Joe seems oblivious, even when she sidetracks Joe to her home for a one-night stand. The next day, he finds a ''Dear Joe'' letter from Carmen and ends up in the brig for losing her. Up to this point, the story is fairly plausible. But Harry Kleiner's screenplay is so eager to connect the dots with the famous opera that the seams start to show. Carmen goes to her favorite nightclub hangout and then waits there--for a month!--for Joe's return, certain that the man whose life and engagement she ruined will come to reclaim her. Sure enough, he does. But a famous boxer comes to the bar and demands that Carmen return with him to Chicago, so she forgets about Joe and takes the offer. Then Joe decks his superior officer and goes AWOL with Carmen. And the story only gets more contrived from there. Having all of this acted out by an all-black cast was probably considered progressive 50 years ago. Because of that, the people who praise this movie seem happy to ignore its many stereotypes--particularly of black females who read playing cards to foretell their futures and drop their daily routines to follow any sweet-talking guy out of town. The actors are passable, but other than showing some skin, they do little to suggest the opera's smoldering passions. (Dandridge was Oscar-nominated for her role, but in hindsight, that seems hard to fathom.) The only cast member who suggests a real person is Pearl Bailey as Carmen's fast-talking friend. One wonders how much better the movie would hold up with Bailey as the good-timing lead. ''Carmen Jones'' might deserve some time-capsule kudos for its casting. Otherwise, what it most resembles is the ''Gilligan's Island'' segment where the castaways used ''Carmen's'' score just as arbitrarily to make a musical episode out of ''Hamlet.''
Anonymous More than 1 year ago