Cast & Crew
In the early nineteenth century, Don Jose Mizarabengoa, a gentleman and ambitious young corporal in the Spanish dragoons, arrives for duty in Seville and immediately is enchanted by Carmen, a beautiful, seductive gypsy who steals his watch. Despite warnings that Carmen is a liar, a thief and a cheat, Jose becomes infatuated with her. When the fiery Carmen slashes a peasant woman's face for insulting her, Jose is ordered to arrest her, but then allows her to escape. As punishment, Jose is broken in rank and confined to guard duty. Jose's commanding officer, the colonel, also succumbs to Carmen's charms, thus arousing Jose's jealousy. On the night that Carmen tells Jose to meet her at her quarters, a fortune teller warns her that she will be killed by the man she really loves. The superstitious Carmen is unnerved by the prediction, but nevertheless keeps her dalliance with Jose. When the colonel finds Jose in Carmen's room, he challenges him to a duel, and Carmen trips the officer, sending him plunging to his death on Jose's sword. Now wanted for murder, Jose flees with Carmen to her gypsy hideout in the mountains and there learns that she is married to Garcia, a ruthless killer. Fueled by jealousy over Carmen, an intense hatred brews between the two men, finally culminating in a knife fight in which Jose kills Garcia. Jose then marries Carmen and assumes leadership of the band. Carmen refuses to relinquish her independence, however, and consequently, quarrels constantly with Jose. One day, Carmen goes to Cordoba for supplies and there meets Lucas, a famous bullfighter, and becomes his lover. When Jose goes to the city after her, Pablo, one of the band, betrays him to the police for the reward. Jose finds Carmen outside the bullring, but when he begs her to return to the hills with him, she refuses and spits at him. Fulfilling the fortune teller's prophecy, Jose stabs her. At that moment, the police shoot him down, and he dies with Carmen clutched in his arms.
Philip Van Zandt
Kate Drain Lawson
Lulu Mae Bohrman
Jerry De Castro
John J. Verros
T. J. Brown
M. W. Stoloff
The Loves of Carmen (1948)
The Loves of Carmen marked the initial offering of Hayworth's production company, Beckworth (though she ultimately let director Charles Vidor take the only producing credit). It wasn't planned that way. Columbia and Hayworth were slated to produce Lorna Hansen, a Technicolor period piece set in New Orleans and co-starring William Holden and Randolph Scott. Audiences, however, were clamoring for a return to the femme fatale type she had played in Gilda (1946). She had gone the straight leading lady route in the musical Down to Earth (1947), and though she had taken a walk on the wild side in The Lady from Shanghai (1947), directed by her husband Orson Welles, the film's box-office failure put her in need of a surefire hit. So she scrapped the New Orleans film (a story she would never film) for a more promising commercial property.
Although best known as the famous George Bizet opera, Carmen had been a screen staple since the silent era. Opera star Geraldine Farrar had scored a hit with it, under Cecil B. DeMille's direction, in 1915, the same year Theda Bara took on the role at Fox. Pola Negri had filmed it with Ernst Lubitsch in Germany in 1921, while Dolores del Rio had brought the role back to the U.S. in 1927. A 1945 French version starring Viviane Romance caused some problems for Columbia when the film's U.S. distributor sued the studio for plagiarism, citing 12 direct parallels in acting and characterization (there is no record of the suit's resolution).
At first, Columbia wanted to cast Gar Moore, an American stage actor who had scored a hit in Roberto Rossellini's Paisan (1946). Studio head Harry Cohn also used the role of Don Jose to lure Gig Young away from Warner Bros. to sign a Columbia contract. But Hayworth was adamant about reuniting the team that had made Gilda a hit. Although he felt himself miscast as the young soldier who becomes obsessed with Carmen, Glenn Ford was cast as Don Jose. Hayworth also demanded Vidor as director, despite the fact that he was embroiled in a major dispute with Cohn, actually taking the man to court in an attempt to stop his foul language and tyrannical behavior.
The studio promoted a family element on The Loves of Carmen by hiring Hayworth's father, Eduardo Cansino, as assistant choreographer, her brother Vernon Cansino to play a soldier and her uncle Jose Cansino to perform as a flamenco. Hayworth's dancing partner on-screen was the film's lead choreographer, Robert Sidney, though the star's dance steps were actually choreographed by a former dancing-school classmate, Antonia Morales. This created some tension on the set. Eduardo Cansino had been Morales' teacher and resented her suddenly taking over his daughter's staging. To keep his ego in check, Morales had to teach him the star's dance steps so he could, in turn, teach them to Hayworth. When Hayworth asked her old friend to provide her expertise to other members of the production crew, she ran into more trouble. The art direction team did not want to be told their sets were not authentic, nor did composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco appreciate her observation that his music was more Mexican than Spanish. Only costume designer Jean Louis welcomed her input, but that raised more problems with the film's technical advisor, who didn't want Morales suggesting that he didn't know his business, even though, in her opinion, he didn't.
All those problems didn't keep Columbia from making the film on a grand scale. Location shooting at Lone Pine, Calif., a popular stand-in for European locales, and Mt. Whitney was matched to lavish studio sets, including a 400 foot long Gypsy camp built on two soundstages that the studio advertised as the largest studio set in film history. Vidor used more than 1,200 extras and bit players in the film, insisting that different extras be called for every crowd scene so none of their faces would recur. He also worked with cinematographer William Snyder to develop a new style for Technicolor photography combining low-key backgrounds with bright foregrounds to create a three-dimensional effect that brought Snyder an Oscar® nomination.
When the picture finally arrived in theatres, the critics were far from impressed. Howard Barnes in the New York Times described it as "...a gaudy and colorful period horse opera marked by pompous dialog and random direction." John McCarten, in The New Yorker, complained that for all her beauty Hayworth wasn't enough of an actress to make the cold-hearted temptress more than "a girl who would regard an unchaperoned trip to Bear Mountain as devilish." But her legions of fans hardly cared. With trailers hailing the story as "The Most Violent Romance in 100 Years" and posters reassuring them that this was not a film version of the famous opera (which wouldn't reach the screen until 1983), they flocked to the film.
The Loves of Carmen would prove to be another box office success for Hayworth. She was next slated to star in the film version of Born Yesterday (1950), which Cohn had bought as a vehicle for her. Hayworth was so exhausted after the earlier film's 81-day shoot, however, that she demanded a lengthy vacation, during which she met and fell in love with her third husband, Prince Aly Khan, leading to a lengthy absence from the screen. Judy Holliday won the Born Yesterday role and the Oscar®; Hayworth got more headlines, notoriety and, ultimately, a broken heart.
Producer/Director: Charles Vidor
Screenplay: Helen Deutsch
Based on the story "Carmen" by Prosper Merimee
Cinematography: William Snyder
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson, Cary Odell
Score: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Cast: Rita Hayworth (Carmen), Glenn Ford (Don Jose), Ron Randell (Andres), Victor Jory (Garcia), Luther Adler (Dancaire), Arnold Moss (Colonel), Joseph Buloff (Remendado), Margaret Wycherly (Old Crone), John Baragrey (Lucas).
by Frank Miller
The Loves of Carmen (1948)
The film includes the following written prologue: "In the early 19th century, gypsies of Spain were a bitter and persecuted people who lived outside the law, scorning the standards of civilized society. Carmen was a product of that lawless and unhappy breed." Beckworth Pictures Corp., the company that produced this film, was owned by Rita Hayworth. The Loves of Carmen marked the first screen collaboration between Hayworth and her father, Eduardo Cansino, who worked as the associate choreographer on the film. According to a Columbia publicity item contained in the film's production files at the AMPAS Library, Cansino, a dance instructor who had coached his daughter since childhood, was a expert on Spanish folk dances. Hayworth's uncle, José Cansino, performed as a flamenco dancer in the film and her brother Vernon appeared as a soldier. Robert Sidney, the film's choreographer, was Hayworth's gypsy dancing partner in the flamenco sequence.
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about the production: A November 3, 1947 news item announced that Gar Moore, an Oklahoma born Italian stage and film star was being considered for the male lead. Just before the film went into production, screenwriter Helen Deutsch offered to buy back her original screenplay, according to a November 13, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item. The film was shot on location at Lone Pine, CA and around Mt. Whitney, CA. Columbia publicity items add that the set representing the gypsy quarter in Seville was one of the largest built at the studio, covering two sound stages and standing 400 feet long. According to Columbia publicity, director Charles Vidor used a total of 1,226 bit and extra players for the fiesta dance sequence and asked that a whole new set of extras be called every day to assure that no one would appear in more than one sequence of the film. Vidor experimented with a new style of Technicolor photography that untilized low-key background lighting and a bright foreground to create a three-dimensional effect, according to a November 12, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item. Hayworth, Vidor and Glenn Ford had previously worked together on the 1946 Columbia production Gilda. The Loves of Carmen was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography.
According to a September 10, 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item, Marcello Girosi, who owned the American releasing rights to the 1946 French film Carmen starring Vivianne Romance, brought a plagiarism suit against Columbia and Beckworth, claiming that there were "twelve direct plagiarisms of action and characterization and bits taken from his picture and used in the Columbia version." The outcome of that suit is not known. In addition to Girosi's film, many other pictures have been based on or inspired by the story and opera of Carmen, including two 1913 three-reel versions, one with Marion Leonard, made by the Monopol Film Co., the other with Marguerite Snow, made by the Thanhouser Corp.; two 1915 film versions; a Fox Film production, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Theda Bara; and a Jesse L. Lasky production, directed by Cecil B. De Mille and starring Geraldine Farrar, (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0610 and F1.0611.) Other films inspired by the story of "Carmen" are the 1927 Fox Film Corp. Loves of Carmen, starring Dolores Del Rio and directed by Raoul Walsh (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3270); the 1954 Twentieth Century-Fox production Carmen Jones, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte and a 1983 Spanish film entitled Carmen, directed by Carlos Saura.