1954 Motion Picture

Rodgers & HammersteinCarmen Jones

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1954 Motion Picture

By Oscar Hammerstein II | Based on Meilhac and Halevy’s adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen | Music by Georges Bizet

Starring Dorothy Dandridge and featuring Pearl Bailey and Harry Belafonte, the film adaptation of Carmen Jones premiered October 28, 1954. Variety declared the adaptation was executed “with taste and imagination in an opulent production,” referring to Dandridge’s “notable” performance as “a sultry Carmen whose performance maintains the right hedonistic tone throughout.” Dandridge was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar, making history as the first African American woman nominated for an Academy Award in a Leading Role. The film was rereleased on DVD in 2002 and on Blu-Ray with a new 4K restoration in 2013. The soundtrack, featuring Muriel Smith, was released by RCA in all formats.


One reason for the success of Otto Preminger’s film version of Carmen Jones was his uncompromising casting of the vocalists; most of the principals were dubbed by seasoned singers. In this soundtrack recording, under the musical direction of Herschel B. Gilbert. Pearl Bailey does her own singing as Frankie, opera star Marilyn Horne sings for Dorothy Dandridge in the title role, and LeVern Hutcherson sings for Harry Belafonte.