Carmen Jones

1954, Movie, NR, 105 mins


Intermittently successful updating of Bizet's "Carmen" with an all-black cast. Preminger's heavy-handed adaptation of a Broadway triumph combines gorgeous music with risible lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; the project is saved by a terrific cast.

Dandridge is a revelation. Even mouthing Marilyn Horne's vocals (not that Dandridge wasn't an accomplished singer; following a brief retirement in the late 1940s, her career was rekindled by a smash engagement at the posh Mocambo nightclub), she is chilling and exactly right, projecting psychological transitions and reflecting clearly the sequences of her thoughts. She's almost matched by Belafonte, and both leads are mesmerizingly beautiful. Considering the waste of Dandridge's career, it is heartening that CARMEN JONES exists as a testament to her beauty and singular talent. She died from a barbiturate overdose in 1965 at age 41. leave a comment

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