Starring: Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey
Director: Otto Preminger
A musical based on the opera by Bizet, with different words, and updated to be set in an all-black army camp, this film stars the incredible Dorothy Dandridge, one of the first black bombshells in Hollywood.
This is Dandridge’s film. A beautiful woman and excellent performer, as you can see in this film, she was quoted as saying that she would have been huge if not for her skin colour. She died very young, leaving behind her disabled daughter in a care home.
The film follows Dandrige as Carmen, a siren who could have any man, and who toys with many. But she has her heart set on Joe, a man who is engaged to someone else. In the process of seducing him, she manages to get him into all kinds of trouble, before him going AWOL from his post, but although she manages to get his heart, the film is ultimately tragic, as any of you who’ve seen the opera will know.
A sparkling, vibrant and sexy woman, Carmen sparkles and sizzles, which makes this film a true classic. But it was one of Dandridges few leading roles, as there were not many roles for black people, let alone black women in Hollywood, and racial tensions were high. Dandridges sex appeal seemed threatening in a place that still derided inter racial marriages and romance. It’s a shame for a lot of reasons, and she is a tragic, beautiful figure on the Hollywood landscape because of it. But I also find her kind of inspirational too. She had a lot of spirit. And this film showcases that, with some great musical numbers too.
See It If: if you’ve never seen a Dorothy Dandridge film before, this is definitely a must watch, and one for all you musical lovers out there.