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Life magazine (dec)

Screenplay by: Harry Kleiner Directed by: Otto Preminger Starring: Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, Roy Glenn, Diahann Carroll, Brock Peters Review Over the years I've heard many people claim Carmen Jones was a terrific film. Now having finally seen the film for the first time on CBS/Fox's recent laserdisc release, I can't quite understand what all the hoopla was about. Carmen Jones is Oscar Hammerstein II's reworking of Georges Bizet's opera, "Carmen" - the film features Bizet's music, but the lyrics and the underlying story have both been altered to give it a decidedly "down home" atmosphere "fitting" for its all-black cast. The musical melodrama involves Joe (Harry Belafonte), an MP whose obsession and romance of sexy tease Carmen Jones (Dorothy Dandridge) eventually leads to their self-destruction. While the concept behind Carmen Jones is commendable, I wasn't really that thrilled with the result. For me, the acting seemed forced and unconvincing, the "new" storyline inept and unbelievable, and I couldn't stand the songs or lyrics either. Be impressed with Carmen Jones if you want to, but please leave me out of it. Carmen Jones was filmed in CinemaScope, and CBS/Fox has appropriately letterboxed the title with an aspect ratio varying between approx. 2.35:1 and 2.38:1. Although seemingly short of the 2.55:1 CinemaScope standard, the entire image is apparently present as some anamorphic squeezing is noticeable on both the left and right edges of the frame (an interesting effect - characters get skinnier the closer they get to the edges...). The transfer exhibits a fine amount of detail for the most part, but the DeLuxe color is very muted and the quality of the presentation as a whole changes slightly from reel to reel. There's a noticeable splice appearing on side one at 44m47s. The CX-encoded digital Western Electric surround stereo soundtrack is mildly noisy, but suffices. It's usually only the music that's in surround stereo (everything else comes out of the center speaker), and one can hear where the audio dubbing begins for some of the songs (apparently most of the film's stars were dubbed over for the musical numbers). A 2m15s black & white MovietoNews reel appears after the film's conclusion. This previously unexhibited reel contains footage from Carmen Jones' Academy Award Theatre screening as well at its 1954 New York World Premiere. As the audio has long been lost for this footage, all there is to offer are some shots of the film's stars, a few recognizable celebrities, and many unknown folk. The single disc comes in a gatefold jacket containing a very in-depth essay on the filming of Carmen Jones, a couple of color photos, and a chapter listing. Carmen Jones was pressed at Sony DADC and is Table of Contents encoded. The jacket chapter listing for side two is erroneous, since the disc is encoded with 18 chapter markers, not 20 as listed. The unchaptered MovietoNews reel begins on side two at 46m45s, with a Chace Home Theatre Sound Check following at 49m42s and color bars & tone at 50m17s.s Review MovietonNews: Carmen Jones' Academy Award Theatre screening and 1954 N.Y. Premiere Review by Jeff Krispow Originally Published in "Pond Scum" #28 Original Review: 03/92 Last Updated: 04/21/9
The cover from the dec. issue of Life-magasine.