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Carmen Jones

172 customer reviews

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(Jan 22, 2002)
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(Jan 22, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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) OscarÂ(r) -nominee 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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey, Olga James, Joe Adams
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Writers: Harry Kleiner, Oscar Hammerstein II, Prosper Mérimée
  • Producers: Otto Preminger
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 4.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: January 22, 2002
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RT38
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,278 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Carmen Jones" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Eric V. Moye on July 22, 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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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By The Fancy One on August 6, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified 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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jenny J.J.I. VINE VOICE on November 10, 2006
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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer 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 By S. Johnson on October 15, 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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