Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte: Carmen Jones Lobby Card
Do you happen to have a favorite movie (literally, one of your all-time favorites) that hardly anyone you talk to has ever seen? You want to talk about its stars, quotes, and scenes with someone but…. it seems only you, within your circle of family and friends… has even seen it?!
Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte are two of my absolute favorites. One of my greatest “old Hollywood” regrets is that these charismatic and talented stars weren’t in more. I can’t tell you how much I’d LOVE to have shelves filled with their dvds. There’s just something about the acting styles and charisma of these two that lights up the room for me.
Carmen Jones is a fascinating film. It’s almost like director Otto Preminger took an old black and white film-noir, added color… then took a musical and added it to the mix. Then, for good measure grabbed a sexy mystery and threw it in the pot. The result is fascinating, in every sense of the word.
When I first watched Carmen Jones (years ago), I was really upset that Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte were dubbed by opera singers. I mean… come on… Belafonte can MORE THAN sing for himself and Dorothy Dandridge had a lovely singing voice. At the time, I thought this “dubbing” was the one drawback of the film.
However, when I watched it a second time (and then third, fourth, fifth…), I actually “got” what Otto Preminger was selling. The opera absolutely, positively adds to the entire ambiance of the film and helps it to stand out as an even more unique and mesmerizing work of art.
Many movies you can say, “THIS film is a lot like THAT one…” but not with Carmen Jones. Why? There is absolutely not another film like it and I’m certain there never will be. This cast and its director and writers struck pure gold. The film and its stars should have won as many awards as were available. Seriously, the Academy Awards that year should have been a Carmen Jones invitational.
(Continued below Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte)
Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte
Dorothy Dandridge was, at least, nominated as lead actress – but she wasn’t given the award. I refuse to say, “..she lost” because that’s not quite true. She wasn’t given her award – and, make no mistake about it, it was her award and should have been in her hands.
I often wonder what winning would have done for this beautiful actress. Her troubled life ended far too soon (she was only 42 when she died) and she was never given the type of (or number of) roles she deserved. I often wonder if she had been given this award if her life would have changed.
For that matter, I often wonder what a win would have meant for black actors and actresses – would they have earned the respect and chance they deserved sooner? Questions like that frustrate me because, trust me, the award should have been Dorothy’s. I’ve seen each of the films from which the actresses in the category with her were in – and Carmen Jones multiple times.
The Oscar was given to the wrong lady. Period.
What’s even more frustrating – more should have been nominated! Harry Belafonte gave an absolutely phenomenal performance. He took his character on one heck of a journey and did so flawlessly. He begins the film as such an innocent young man… then here comes beautiful Carmen and my guy didn’t stand a chance!
If you love great acting, great chemistry, film-noirs, musicals, wonderful stories, and movies with endings that leave you speechless (and thinking about them for days!), I am begging you to see Carmen Jones.
Watch Carmen Jones on Amazon Prime.
Buy Carmen Jones on DVD (Amazon link).
Buy Carmen Jones on Blu-Ray (Amazon link).