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4.6 out of 5 stars
Carmen Jones [Blu-ray]
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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
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.
My only question? Both D.D and H.B were fabulous singers in their own right. I have never understood why their singing parts were dubbed. Nonetheless, the contemporary adaptation of this classic music is wonderful.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
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 the love-sick soldier. Also worth noting is Pearl Bailey's performance as Carmen's wise-cracking best friend. Don't hesitate to buy this video! My 14 year old daughter is in LOVE with this movie, and I know it will be one of your favorites, too. GET IT!!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I've seen the stage version of this amazing show, and though I usually prefer the immediacy of live shows, the movie is still tops in my book. Dorothy Dandridge *is* Carmen, and though her voice is dubbed, who can complain when it's dubbed by Marilyn Horne? Every time I see this movie, I find myself wishing again that Dorothy had lived longer, or at least made more movies in her short life. Can you imagine what she'd accomplish in today's film industry?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2006
Format: DVD
Dorothy Dandridge's role as Carmen Jones made me believe that she was like the sensual being that didn't get to shine because of her ethnicity.She was the epitome of beauty, and I think Hollywood used her and threw her out like yesterday's trash. She didn't have to be naked to let you that she was sexy.Harry was hooked, and since he couldn't have her, nobody else could either, which soon led to Carmen's demise.Bellafonte,Dandridge,Carroll and Bailey played their roles well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie is phenomenal. Personally, there

are not many movies which I care to see

more than once. My interest span is not that great.

However, I could watch "Carmen Jones" everyday.

Apart from all its political and social notoriety,

"Carmen Jones" is a great film on any level. Yes,

we've all heard about Dandridge's groundbreaking

success and the racial progress that she incurred

with this film. However, even if you were not aware

of this, the movie still stands as a remarkable product

of Otto Preminger's mastery.

Yes, it's slow in some places, and you

find yourself going through withdrawal,

just waiting for the next glimpse of the

stunning Dandridge. However, this movie delivers

with a flavorful punch. Without a doubt, it lives up to

it's hype and beyond. Good story line, beautiful

leading actors (Belafonte/Dandridge, a match made

in movie heaven), fun music, and an entertaining

interpretation of the original opera.

This is a great movie for everyone.

PS: just a little information here.

People often wonder why two professional singers (Belafonte/Dandridge) would have their voices dubbed in the movie. Well, first of all, Dandridge was a pop/night club performer and it is highly unlikely that she had the vocal range nor the appropriate voice ability to tackle the classic mezzo-soprano role. Likewise, with Belafonte, who was also a pop singer. However, I do suspect that he could have vocally pulled off the tenor role. Perhaps, it was a question of taste by the producers. Diahann Caroll is also dubbed. Pearl Baily, however, is not dubbed.(????????)What's that all about?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The most curious thing about Otto Preminger's CARMEN JONES (1954) is that all singing voices (except for Pearl Bailey's) are dubbed, even though Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge (specifically) were both capable vocalists.

In this modernized version of Georges Bizet's most famous work, his opera "Carmen," Belafonte is Joe, a soldier in an all-black camp, Dandridge portrays sultry Carmen, a parachute factory worker who actively pursues Joe while he's under orders to deliver her to the authorities for starting a fight at work.

At first Joe spurns Carmen's advances, remaining faithful to his fiancée (Olga James as Cindy Lou) but during a stopover at her grandma's home she turns up the heat, he weakens and gives in. Carmen escapes during the night, leaving Joe a "Sorry I'm runnin' but I really love you" note. Back at camp he's sent to the stockade for letting Carmen get away. Cindy Lou visits Joe just as a package from Carmen arrives. In it she sees a rose; Cindy Lou leaves without a word.

Carmen's in another state, dreaming of the day Joe is released and Joe keeps her rose, obsessing over her, too. Those familiar with the original opera know this story's outcome and newcomers will want to find out for themselves how things end up.

Bizet's many oh-so-familiar tunes have been spiffed up with new lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Highlights include Pearlie Mae's exciting "Beat Out Dat Rhythm on a Drum" and Marilyn Horne (as Carmen's voice) rendering a scornfully seductive "Dat's Love":

You go for me and I'm taboo
But if you're hard to get, I'll go for you
And if I do, then you are through

Best may be Marvin Hayes (vocally standing in for Joe Adams) as heavyweight boxer Husky Miller. His determined take on the Toreador Song is called "Stan' Up and Fight."

(chorus:)
Stan' up and fight until you hear the bell
Stan' toe to toe, trade blow for blow
Keep punchin' 'til you hear that final bell
Show them folks what you know!
Until you hear that bell, the final bell
Stan' up and fight like hell!

Carmen Jones is a rare work of art, a successful adaptation of classic opera and as such is most highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
Format: DVD
1954's Carmen Jones is a classic film of great value. Otto Preminger directed the film in the new CinemaScope, Dorothy Dandridge was a black actress in the pre-Civil Rights Movement period to be playing a serious role and it's an easy transition into the Georges Bizet French opera from which it was based. The movie used Bizet's music but they translated the lyrics into English. Dorothy Dandrige stars as Carmen Jones and Harry Belafonte as Joe, or Carmen and Don Jose respectively. The film was successful, since it was Rodgers and Hammerstein's concept. The film is like a realistic musical without too much sugar or sunshine. The story of Carmen, itself drawn from the French short novel by Prosper Merimee, is a dark story of passion and obscession that results in a crime of passion, the death of Carmen as she is stabbed by the jealous Joe. Carmen, a free spirit, gets into all sorts of trouble, oozes sensuality and sex appeal, and wins all the men with her Habanera song. When she seduces Joe in a World War II military camp, he abandons his homely and well-mannered girlfriend Cindy Lou (Micaela in the opera) he lives with Carmen as lovers. But the affair declines for Carmen who takes an interest in the attractive boxer Oscar Miller (a play on the name Escamillo from the opera who was a bullfighter). Joe gets decisively jealous and begs Carmen to forget about the boxer and continue their romance. The last scene is particularily impressive, and is full of taut, dramatic tension. The rest of the movie is of course all musical numbers and dramatic scenes, such as Carmen Jones discovering her doom through reading the cards and reading her death card. The whole thing is a miracle to watch, because it seems to work effectively as both musical and opera. It's highly enjoyable and I recommend anyone interested in the opera Carmen to watch it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
That's what describes Dorothy Dandridge.When I saw Carmen Jones for the first time, I was just totally blown off my feet. Her style and grace was what made the movie so wonderful! I was just in this mode of wanting to know more about this beautiful and talented lady. So now I am reading Bogle's book of her life. The movie: Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, was just heart-stopping. I am now doing a term paper on Dandridge as my subject. If she was still alive I would love to meet her and tell her how much of an inspriation she has been to me. She was truly a remarkable person and is a legend.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
When i first saw Carmen Jones , I wanted to know who was this strikingly gorgeous woman with such skill. I came to find out that,that woman was Dorthy Dandridge a film legend.Her pure essence on screen captivates the viewer to want to see this movie again and again. The sad story is she didn't live long enough to make more great films like this one, she would have exploded the box office. I recommend this movie to anyone who loves classics and even if you don't love them, I assure you that you'll fall in love with one of Dorthy Dandridge's biggest acting debuts "carmen Jones".
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