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.
A 1950’s version of the Bizet opera, written by Oscar Hammerstein II. This version contains an all African-American cast.
This is a classic classy musical film from the ‘50’s, which is rare; what makes it even rarer is that this is a fifties film with an all African-American cast. Thankfully this film has been preserved by the National Film Registry by the American Library
Now I’m not the biggest fan of musicals; I like a few mainstream ones such as ‘Grease’ or even the classic ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut’. But clearly this film is nothing like them. It’s a serious tragedy and also a fantastic piece of cinema.
The classic plot of this film is a timeless tale that is set during World War II, at an African-American military camp. A young soldier, Joe (Harry Belafonte), is about to begin training to become a fighter pilot when Carmen Jones (Dorothy Dandridge) sets her sights on him. He resists her advances because he is engaged to another girl. But quickly he finds himself having to take Carmen to the authorities after she has an altercation with another woman on the base.
Their trip takes a side turn as their car falls into a ditch; Carmen takes Joe to her home town and to her house. There Joe finds he can no longer withstand Carmen’s advances and he falls for her. The next morning Carmen has run away not wishing to go to jail. Joe is thrown in a military prison for losing his prisn is offered the chance to go with Husky Millar (Joe Adams) a prize boxing fighter, to Chicago, all expenses paid she refuses.
When Joe is released he instantly seeks out Carmen and unfortunately ends up in a fight with his Sargent, knocking him out and ‘hurting him pretty bad’. In order to avoid the Military Police, Carmen suggests they go to Chicago, not telling Joe that she call-expenses paid trip as long as she hangs out with Husky. But things start to go badly for Carmen as her amoral ways lead her further away from Joe.
All of the actors and actresses in this film are amazing; given the time that this film was made in few of them received any accolades. Although Dorothy Dandridge did get an Oscar Nomination which was definitely well deserved, many critics of the time argued
The songs are remarkable, of course, however if I had one criticism of this movie it would be that, quite obviously, Dorothy and Harry’s parts are over dubbed. This must have been done because neither Dorothy Dandridge nor Harry Belafonte were Opera singers and whilst it may be argued that th
Otto Preminger was a phenomenal Director who was far ahead of his time; more often than not he would direct films, such as ‘Carmen Jones’, that were considered highly controversial at the time. He often found himself in trouble with the Motion Picture Production Code and on this film there was no difference. The MPPC argued that there really is no voice of reason calling Carmen out for all of her amoral behaviour. Although I would argue, as I’m sure Preminger did, that fate kind of deals her a pretty heavy handed lesson in the end. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s a
This film would definitely make it into my top five favourite musicals of all time, although as I admitted above, musicals aren’t really my thing. But that should tell you something about this film. It is incredible and whether you like musicals or not .