USA, 1954, 105 min, DCP, Dir. Otto Preminger, Not Rated, English, 20th Century Fox
“The best reason to revisit Carmen Jones lies in Dorothy Dandridge's electrifying performance, which saw her become the first African American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.”– Tom Dawson, BBC
“Preminger directs with a deft touch, blending the comedy and tragedy easily and building his scenes to some suspenseful heights.” – Variety
This film is part of Strong Black Leads, a celebration of talented filmmakers and performers who, despite the odds, have made remarkable contributions to cinema through their respective crafts.
In this adaptation of French composer Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen Jones (Dorothy Dandridge) is a factory worker on an army base, where she makes parachutes. Though she can have her pick of the men around her, Carmen sets her sights on Joe (Harry Belafonte) an engaged soldier preparing to train as a fighter pilot. Risking everything he’s worked for to bask in Carmen’s attention, Joe heads down a dark and dangerous path.
Dorothy Dandridge was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, making history as the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Actress. Dandridge was also the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Life Magazine, where she was featured because of her role in Carmen Jones. The film was also nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score. The cast includes several notable Black talents: Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Brock Peters, and young, uncredited dancing talents Alvin Ailey and Carmen De Lavallade.
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