The Loves of Carmen (1948)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 23, 1948 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

If you're going to make a non-operatic version of a famous opera, you need to have both an excellent reason for doing so and a new take on the material. The Loves of Carmen has the reason -- Rita Hayworth's unearthly beauty and incredible sex appeal -- but it falls down on the second score. Helen Deutsch's screenplay merely retells the opera's (and book's) story, which is exceedingly melodramatic, yet she doesn't offer new insights or provide structural and motivational elements that can fill in the gaps left by the removal of Bizet's evocative music. Her dialogue is sluggish and trite, and much of the film is quite dated -- especially a reference to Glenn Ford having joined "the Gay Police." With no new conception to the story, what in the opera that does come across as tragic, romantic, and enticingly lurid also seems disjointed, forced, and sometimes silly. A miscast Ford doesn't help; a more than capable actor, he's out of his element here and cannot supply the self-destructive obsession that the role demands. Fortunately, the film does have Hayworth, one of the screen's few genuine "love goddesses," and a fine actress to boot. She can't overcome some of the dialogue, but she's so bewitching that most viewers will ignore the stilted words coming out of her mouth. In her dialogue scenes, she can't quite convey the evil fire that burns within Carmen, but when she's given the opportunity to dance, she fills the screen with the vitality and venom that mark her character. William Snyder's glorious cinematography catches her in all her stunning beauty, and the combination of Hayworth and Snyder are enough to overcome -- just barely -- many of the film's flaws.