6.8/10
4,148
57 user 40 critic

Carmen Jones (1954)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 28 October 1954 (USA)
Trailer
2:46 | Trailer
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)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A woman whose past is scorned by nearly everyone around her meets a man who'd love her regardlessly- if only everyone else would allow them to.

Directors: Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr.
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A strung-out junkie deals with a demoralizing drug addiction while his crippled wife and card sharks pull him down.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker
Certificate: M/PG Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two aging playboys are both after the same attractive young woman, but she fends them off by claiming that she plans to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Both men determine to find a way around her objections.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: William Holden, David Niven, Maggie McNamara
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Cecile, decadent young girl who lives with her rich playboy father Raymond. When Anne, Raymond's old love interest, comes to Raymond's villa, Cecile is afraid for her way of life.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Jean Seberg, David Niven, Deborah Kerr
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

When a leak of information in the African Section of British Intelligence is discovered, security man Daintry is brought in to investigate.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Richard Attenborough, Nicol Williamson, Derek Jacobi
Saint Joan (1957)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1456, French King Charles VII recalls the story of how he met the seventeen-year-old peasant girl Joan of Arc, entrusted her with the command of the French Army, and ultimately burned her at the stake as a heretic.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Richard Widmark, Richard Todd, Anton Walbrook
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A dramatization of the American general and his court martial for publically complaining about High Command's dismissal and neglect of the aerial fighting forces.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gary Cooper, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy
Certificate: Passed Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A compulsive gambler dies during a shooting, but he'll receive a second chance to reform himself and to make up with his worried wife.

Directors: Vincente Minnelli, Busby Berkeley
Stars: Ethel Waters, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Lena Horne
The Cardinal (1963)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young Catholic priest from Boston confronts bigotry, Naziism, and his own personal conflicts as he rises to the office of cardinal.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Tom Tryon, John Huston, Romy Schneider
Daisy Kenyon (1947)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Daisy Kenyon (Joan Crawford) is a commercial artist living in New York City and having a 'back street' affair with a married lawyer, Dan O'Mara (Dana Andrews), whom she hopes to marry as ... See full summary »

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The titular river unites a farmer recently released from prison, his young son, and an ambitious saloon singer. In order to survive, each must be purged of anger, and each must learn to understand and care for the others.

Directors: Otto Preminger, Jean Negulesco
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe, Rory Calhoun
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Actress Patty O'Neill meets playboy architect Donald Gresham on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and accepts his invitation to join him for drinks and dinner in his apartment.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Hardy Krüger, Johannes Heesters, Johanna Matz
Edit

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)
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones See more »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The singing voices of Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge were dubbed by LeVern Hutcherson (as Le Vern Hutcherson) and Marilyn Horne (as Marilynn Horne) respectively, even though Belafonte and Dandridge were both accomplished singers. However, neither had the training nor the range to sing operatic roles.Katherine E. Hilgenberg, a soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale (morphed later into the Los Angeles Master Chorale), was originally signed to sing the Carmen role, and a number of the arias were already recorded (with piano, on a separate track), when director Otto Preminger's bullying behavior became too much for her and she quit. Horne ("Jackie") was a 19-year-old music student at nearby USC. She auditioned for the part and was immediately hired - for $300. But it was a terrific break for her, and she grabbed it, and did an outstanding job, re-recording what Hilgenberg had already sung, plus the balance of the music. It's also fun to note that Horne was a singer for Tops Records, a company that made sound-alike recordings of hit records with identical arrangements (in those days arrangements could not be copyrighted) and "stand-ins" who could mimic the artists who made the hit record. Jackie Horne, later to become a major 20th-century opera star, was funding her college expenses, in part, by recording Kay Starr's hits. Starr was famous for belting out her songs with a certain razzmatazz style, and Horne's rendition was a dead-ringer. The Tops Records offices, it should be noted, were within walking distance from the USC campus. See more »

Goofs

Not all of the Soundtrack Credits are listed. See more »

Quotes

Joe: Thanks, but I don't drink.
Carmen Jones: Boy, if the army was made up of nothin' but soldiers like you, war wouldn't do nobody no good.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

YOU GO FOR ME
(uncredited)
Music by Georges Bizet
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Dorothy Dandridge (dubbed by Marilyn Horne (as Marilynn Horne))
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Dandridge, the photography, and the intention are all amazing enough to justify the rest
18 September 2012 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

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.


10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 57 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed