Valentine’s Day means movies in heavy rotation with juicy romantic plots, but none come close to “Carmen Jones.”
The 1954 musical film has a long lineage.
Otto Preminger’s adaptation of Oscar Hammerstein’s 1943 stage production was inspired by a French adaptation of the 19th-century novella “Carmen.” However, it’s Preminger’s cast — Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, and Pearl Bailey — that makes this version so memorable. Dandridge and Belafonte have remarkable chemistry; nearly 60 years later, it’s hard to think of another film that can hold a match to this portrayal of Black love (albeit the dysfunctional and murderous kind.)
This wartime story follows a classic love triangle chock full of jealousy, temptation and that achy-breaky old-timey love. Carmen, the ill-fated femme fatale who incites trouble wherever she goes, made Dandridge the first Black woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Lead Role. And Belafonte is Joe, the naïve soldier who aspires to pilot school… but becomes enthralled by the fiery Carmen.
Carmen Jones airs on XFINITY On Demand™. Here’s a little tease.
What’s your favorite film featuring Black love?
Editor’s Note: Throughout Black History Month and beyond, Shadow and Act will partner with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. XFINITY is creating a unique digital community built around the love of Black entertainment at xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.