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Dandridge and Belafonte sizzle on screen!
I saw this movie years ago and was totally blown away by the performances. Now I own it, and my feeling is still the same. Dorothy Dandridge was a GODDESS!! She was in the role of her life and she played it the hilt! Based on the Bizet opera "Carmen", Carmen Jones is a free spirited, beautiful young woman who has broken many a heart in her lifetime with no apologies. When she sets her sights on Joe, the young Army pilot candidate, though, things change forever for the both of them...with tragic results. A ground-breaking love story featuring blacks in the lead roles back in 1954 when it came out, something that was rarely ever done before. Prior to this film, black portrayals on film were mostly regulated to singers, musicians, dancers, mammies, maids and shuffling, uneducated Negroes. "Carmen Jones" changed all of that. Hands down, Dorothy Dandridge deserved that Academy Award, but sadly, she was denied it. Harry Belafonte is GORGEOUS! Great performance for him as...
Powered by Georges Bizet's grand music and Oscar Hammerstein II's magnificent lyrics, this Americanized all-black version of the classic opera Carmen is "a dynamic superb show" with a positively "incandescent Carmen." (Newsweek) Oscarnominee Dorothy Dandridge stars in the title role, a passionate, sexy creature who lures Joe (Harry Belafonte), a handsome soldier, away from his sweetheart (Olga James). Following a fatal brawl with his sergeant, Joe deserts his regiment with the sultry femme fatale. But Carmen soon tires of him and takes up with a heavyweight prize-fighter (Joe Adams). Triggering Joe's tragic revenge. Helping to set the screen on fire are Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll, part of the "sensational troupe" that makes this jubilant musical film "hard to beat."Few actresses have captivated the camera as powerfully as Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones. Her polished beauty plays in irresistible contrast to her title character's leonine sexuality and fluid emotions; a man can't decide from moment to moment if he wants to save her from doom, build her a castle, or never let her out of bed. Of course, that's the problem with the boys in this semi-experimental adaptation of Bizet's opera, Carmen. Straight-arrow Joe (a strapping Harry Belafonte), an obedient corporal on a Southern military base during World War II, is all set to go to flight school and marry his hometown sweetie, Cindy Lou (Olga James), when his troublemaking sergeant orders him to accompany Carmen to a civilian court. In short order, Joe is swept up in Carmen's carnal anarchy and her craving for release from lousy options in life. An impulsive act of violence ensures that Joe's future is gone forever, putting Carmen in the difficult position of destroying their relationship to save him. Oscar Hammerstein II took Bizet's music in 1943 and rewrote the book and lyrics. The result is largely a smashing success with a few missteps (the bullfighter in Bizet's piece becomes a heavyweight boxer here, which breaks up a certain grace in the story) and a couple of perfect stretches (the long prelude to Carmen and Joe's first embrace, set on Carmen's home turf). Despite the fact that both Dandridge and Belafonte were singers, their vocal performances were dubbed by LeVern Hutcherson and Marilyn Horne. (Yes, it is a little disconcerting to hear another voice come out of the more familiar Belafonte's mouth.) Otto Preminger directed with his usual eye on economy of action and production, as the numerous musical numbers tend to be shot in lengthy, single, carefully choreographed takes. The result can be a little visually static at times, but the passion behind the singing pulls everything through. --Tom Keogh
Movie Category: TV
Production of: DANDRIDGE,DOROTHY
Movie Rating : 4.6
Total Review : 169
- Factory sealed DVD
Top Buyer Review of Carmen Jones:
A memorable film accompanied by a great cast.
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...
Oscar Hammerstein took the fabulous classic work of Bizet "Carmen", and made it into a contemporary work and an instant classic now some fifty years ago. There are just not enough superlatives to adequately describe this movie. The first time I saw this was on the stage in LOndon years ago, and I had to seek out the video.
Dorothy Dandridge made her career in this one epic work. It is nothing short of transfixing. Seeing her use her charms to turn Harry Belafonte into her slave (what an incredibly lucky SOB!) and then torment him was like nothing I had ever seen before. It is interesting to note that even given the social morays of the time, D.D was so much more erotic in the simple act of putting on her stockings than we see today in a hour of almost total nudity on the screen! I am not sure that there has ever been anyone who burned up the screen any more before or since. Also featured were a young Pearl Bailey and Dianne Carroll.