Saturday Open Thread

Carmen Jones

Carmen Jones is a 1954 American musical film produced and directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Harry Kleiner is based on the libretto for the 1943 stage production of the same name by Oscar Hammerstein II, which was inspired by an adaptation of the 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella Carmen by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Hammerstein also wrote the lyrics to music composed by Georges Bizet for his 1875 opera Carmen.

In 1992, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”


The Broadway production of Carmen Jones opened on December 2, 1943 and ran for 503 performances.[1] When he saw it, Otto Preminger dismissed it as a series of “skits loosely based on the opera” with a score “simplified and changed so that the performers who had no operatic training could sing it.” In adapting it for the screen, he wanted to make “a dramatic film with music rather than a conventional film musical,” [2] so he decided to return to the original source material – the Prosper Mérimée novella – and hired Harry Kleiner, whom he had taught at Yale University, to expand the story beyond the limitations imposed upon it by the Bizet opera and Hammerstein’s interpretation of it.[3]

Preminger realized no major studio would be interested in financing an operatic film with an all-black cast, so he decided to produce it independently. He anticipated United Artist executives Arthur B. Krim and Robert S. Benjamin, who had supported him in his censorship battles with The Moon Is Blue, would be willing to invest in the project, but the two felt it was not economically viable and declined.[4] Following the completion of his previous film, River of No Return, Preminger had paid 20th Century Fox $150,000 to cancel the remainder of his contract,[5][6] so he was surprised when Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck contacted him and offered to finance the film while allowing him to operate as a fully independent filmmaker. In December 1953, he accepted $750,000 and began what became a prolonged preproduction period. He hired cinematographer Sam Leavitt as director of photography, Herschel Burke Gilbert as musical director, and Herbert Ross as choreographer and began to scout locations.[7]

On April 14, 1954, six weeks before principal photography was scheduled to begin, Preminger was contacted by Joseph Breen, who was in the final months of his leadership of the office of the Motion Picture Production Code. Breen had clashed with Preminger over The Moon Is Blue and still resented the director’s success in releasing that film without a seal of approval. He cited the “over-emphasis on lustfulness” in Carmen Jones and was outraged by the screenplay’s failure to include “any voice of morality properly condemning Carmen’s complete lack of morals.” [8] Preminger agreed to make some minor adjustments to the script and even filmed two versions of scenes Breen found objectionable, although he included the more controversial ones in the final film.[9]

Because he himself was sensitive to the issue of racial representation in the film, Preminger had no objections when Zanuck urged him to submit the script to Walter Francis White, executive secretary of the NAACP, who had no objection to it.[10]


Preminger began to assemble his cast. Harry Belafonte, a folk singer who recently had introduced Calypso music to a mainstream audience, had only one film to his credit, but he had just won the Tony Award and Theatre World Award for his performance in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, and Preminger cast him as Joe. Pearl Bailey’s sole screen credit was the 1948 film Isn’t It Romantic?, but she had achieved success as a band singer and was familiar to television audiences from her appearances on Your Show of Shows, so she was assigned the role of Frankie. Joe Adams was a Los Angeles disc jockey with no acting experience, but Preminger felt he had the right look for Husky.[11] Diahann Carroll auditioned for the title role, but she was so terrified of the director she could barely focus on the scene,[12] and Preminger cast her in the small supporting role of Myrt instead.

Preminger was familiar with Dorothy Dandridge but felt she was incapable of exuding the sultry sex appeal the role of Carmen demanded, particularly after having seen Dandridge’s performance as a demure schoolteacher opposite Belafonte in 1953’s Bright Road.[13] Her agent’s office was in the same building where Preminger’s brother Ingo worked, and he asked Ingo to intercede on his client’s behalf. At his first meeting with Dandridge, Preminger told her she was “lovely” and looked like a “model” or “a beautiful butterfly,” but not Carmen,[14] and suggested she audition for the role of Cindy Lou. Dandridge took the script and left, and when she returned she was dressed and behaved exactly as Preminger envisioned Carmen. The director was impressed enough to schedule a screen test for mid-May, after Dandridge completed a singing engagement in St. Louis. In the interim he cast Juilliard School graduate Olga James as Cindy Lou.[15]

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15 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. Ametia says:

    Another devastatin​g piece on Romney’s business record

    Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm

    Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Romney The “Can’t Decider”

    [ Posted Monday, June 18th, 2012 – 17:17 PDT ]

    Mitt Romney, candidate for president, seems not to be able to make up his mind. George W. Bush famously labeled himself the “Decider” when in office, but it seems Mitt is proving to be the “Can’t Decider” this time around.

    Romney has shown this trait on several issues in the campaign so far. Some important event or political policy problem gets into the news, the reporters covering his campaign flock to Mitt to find out his position, and it turns out to be: “we’ll get back to you on that.” Which never actually happens. Call Mitt a “Profile in Timidity” if you will.

    To a certain extent, all politicians running for office try to play this game. Holding a strong position on any contentious issue will, after all, likely lose you the votes of those who don’t agree with such a position. But Mitt seems to be taking this game to new levels. If they haven’t already, the Obama team should really consider running one of those “it’s 3:00 A.M.” ads soon (to put it another way). Because there is being politically savvy, and then there is Mitt Romney’s inability to take a stance on just about anything.

    The case in point this week is, of course, immigration. Can any Romney supporter explain exactly what Mitt’s position is on the Rubio/Obama “mini DREAM Act”? The man is all over the map on the issue, trying to have things about six ways at the same time. If the man actually had a position, it might be defensible from a certain point of view, but having no position (or every possible position) at the same time is simply indefensible, when you consider the job he’s running for.

    Back in December, during the primary race, Mitt said the following, when asked about the subject: “The question is, if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is yes.” He went on to say: “For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law. If I’m the president of the United States, I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration.” At the same time, however, he seemed to support a part of Rubio’s idea — allowing people who serve in the military some sort of (unspecified) legal status.

    Other past statements from Romney draw an equally hard line on immigration, stretching back to the 2008 campaign. His 2012 campaign website has plenty of such language on it, but contains nary a word on the DREAM Act.

    Since then, Romney has said he would “consider” Marco Rubio’s plan of allowing residency — but not citizenship — to the DREAM Act folks (or at least the military ones, it’s hard to tell). Rubio conveniently never actually put his plan on paper, meaning that Rubio’s plan itself was nebulous and undefined. On top of these shifting sands, Romney was rather vague on his support for any of it. Call it vagueness squared.

    The goal was, of course, to “send a message” to Latino voters that perhaps, at some future date, Republicans might actually do something other than scapegoating immigration for political gain among nativists. But this “message” would not actually define what that future step would entail, of course.

  3. rikyrah says:

    The graphic with this post is HILARIOUS.


    They Shoot Up Horses Don’t They?

    By mistermix June 23rd, 2012

    Speaking of Ann Romney and her little ponies, she was the target a lawsuit, along with the trainers of her last horse, that alleged that her trainers had given the invisible hand a little chemical assistance:

  4. rikyrah says:

    Fast & Furious is a NRA Conspiracy

    by BooMan
    Sat Jun 23rd, 2012 at 09:49:09 AM EST

    As far as I know, there have been no new federal laws passed during President Obama’s term in office that restrict gun ownership or impact gun owner’s privacy. After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot by one of her constituents, there was a small flurry of bills introduced by Democrats. They were referred to committee and died. When the Republican Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee Peter King (R-NY) announced his intention to introduce a gun control bill, he was quickly shot down by Speaker Boehner.
    Certainly, the president hasn’t signed any bills like the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. That bill was signed by George H.W. Bush and was found to be unconstitutional in 1995. Clinton had it tweaked a bit, but it is basically toothless at this point.

    There seem to be no grounds for suspecting that President Obama has any kind of gun control agenda at all, and neither does the Democratic Party. This, of course, makes the National Rifle Association (NRA) rather irrelevant, at least in political matters. Their fundraising should be drying up since there really is no need for them to do anything in the political arena. Their opponents were vanquished long ago. Even watching a colleague get shot in the brain wasn’t enough to move Congress to do anything to restrict gun ownership.

    Yet, the NRA is telling people that the president has a secret plan to confiscate their guns and actually informed Congress that they will be “scoring” the contempt vote for Eric Holder, as if you couldn’t be a supporter of gun rights if you don’t think the Attorney General should be held in contempt for failing to turn over irrelevant emails and meeting minutes.

    Probably the most startling thing about the Fast and Furious conspiracy theory is that the program was initiated by the Bush administration. That single fact undermines the whole theory that the Obama administration initiated the program for any nefarious purpose. They didn’t initiate it.

    In fact, they didn’t even know about it. The whole contempt case rests on the idea that Eric Holder initiated a damage-control strategy after he realized that he’d been lied to by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, which resulted in the DOJ giving erroneous information to congressional oversight committees. The Republicans are demanding to see the internal deliberations the DOJ went through after they discovered they’d unintentionally misled Congress. But that has nothing to do with taking anyone’s guns away or any foreknowledge of the program.

    Basically, what we’re witnessing is just a way for the NRA to stay relevant in an era where gun control efforts are dead. That’s it. And it’s further proof that the NRA is acting as more of a wing of the GOP than as an advocate for responsible gun ownership.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Call Me an Optimist

    by BooMan
    Fri Jun 22nd, 2012 at 10:39:51 AM EST

    I’ll stipulate that Charlie Cook’s analysis is justified by the numbers he is looking at, but I just do not believe that this is going to be a close election. I might have said the same thing in 1980. Yes, in 1980, the polls were close during the summer. There were real doubts that the voters would take Ronald Reagan seriously. But, ultimately, you could see many signs that the electorate was going to reject President Carter and the Democrats in rather emphatic fashion. Reagan won the presidency in a landslide and his party won 12 Senate and 34 House seats. That was enough to win control of the Senate for the first time since 1954.
    Polls don’t mean a whole lot this far out. The only bright spot for Republicans right now is that they will do considerably better than they should. Because they largely controlled the redistricting process and they have a huge money advantage thanks to Citizens United, and because they will disenfranchise many black and brown voters with their photo ID requirements, they will win seats that they would have lost two or four or six years ago.

    I should add a caveat here. If somehow Mitt Romney wins this election, he will do so by the narrowest of Electoral College margins. But I don’t think he will win. And I don’t think he will lose narrowly. I think the American people will react is similar fashion to how they reacted to McGovern, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis. I don’t mean that Obama will win in a total landslide. I just mean that the people will tilt strongly in his direction at the end.

    There are many states that will vote for Romney even if he loses the argument in dramatic fashion. But I think he will win those states by a much narrower margin than McCain won them. And I think we will retain control of the Senate and retake control of the House.

    Call me an optimist, but Mitt Romney is not a skilled politician or a viable alternative to the president. And I believe the American people will agree.

  6. rikyrah says:

    What’s Wrong With Mitt’s DREAM Compromise?
    Evan McMorris-Santoro-June 23, 2012, 8:02 AM

    After the dueling presidential speeches at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference in Orlando this weekend, voters are faced with a clear choice when it comes to dealing with the undocumented children of illegal immigrants growing up in the U.S.: Mitt Romney says they should have to serve in the military in order to earn their citizenship. President Obama says those who seek an advanced education should get a chance at being a citizen.

    DREAM Act supporters reject Romney’s plan, even though it would provide a path to citizenship for children now living virtually their entire lives underground in America. Romney is going further than some of his own advisers when he provides at least some path for undocumented youth to become citizens. So what’s the problem? Why are DREAMers and their advocates continuing to reject Romney’s plan? The issue, they say, is fairness.

    “You’re basically putting undocumented youth in a corner where they have to choose whether they enlist in the military to continue living a life in the shadows,” said Mayra Hidalgo, an undocumented college graduate planning to seek a graduate degree now under the new White House policy ending deportations of DREAM-eligible youth.

    Hidalgo confronted Romney after his NALEO speech, asking him what he’d do for people like her. She went away from the encounter without an answer, she said.

    “We are just as American as anyone else, we’re just missing a piece of paper,” she said of Romney’s plan. “We deserve to have the choice and say in where our future’s going to take us. We deserve to have control of our lives enough in which we can say no or yes concerning joining the military.”

    Other advocates for undocumented children say that compromising on the education path for DREAMers would deny the country more highly-educated citizens, which is what politicians on both sides say the country needs to grow.

    “It’s important to have an education component or at least have the option of higher education as a route for someone to get their residency,” said Shiu-Ming Cheer, a lawyer with the National Immigration Law Center. “In part that’s because I think in general we want to encourage people to see higher education.”

    The Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm crunched the numbers and found that Romney’s military-only DREAM plan would only provide a path to citizenship for 1.5% of undocumented youth in the country today.

    Cheer said that Romney’s plan might help build up the Armed Forces, but it’s unlikely it would do much to help DREAMers.

    “I think in part maybe they’re looking at the particular needs of military,” she said when asked why people favor a military-only option. “I don’t see why it has to be mutually exclusive, why we can’t have both options so that young people can themselves make the choice.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Report: Issa Staffer Offered To Stop Holder Contempt Vote For DOJ Scalp

    Ryan J. Reilly-June 22, 2012, 2:06 PM

    Rep. Darrell Issa’s chief investigative counsel offered to stop the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder in exchange for the resignation of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Newsweek’s Dan Klaidman is reporting.

    Issa staffer Stephen Castor brought up the issue of “accountability” during a phone call with a senior DOJ official last week, according to the report. Castor reportedly said they could head off the contempt vote if Breuer stepped down.

    Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, apologized in October for not telling other Justice Department officials that guns were allowed to “walk” during the Bush administration when Congress first raised questions about Operation Fast And Furious in early 2011.

    Breuer said in a statement last that he “did not draw a connection between the unacceptable tactics used by the ATF years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver and the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious, and therefore did not, at that time, alert others within Department leadership of any similarities between the two. That was a mistake, and I regret not having done so.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Outsourcing ‘pioneers’ take center stage

    By Steve Benen

    Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:36 PM EDT.

    Following up on an earlier item, the Washington Post reported today on Mitt Romney’s company investing in “pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components.” To understate matters, President Obama and his campaign team have taken quite an interest in the story.

    About an hour ago, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, put out this video, seizing on the controversy.

    For its part, the Romney campaign is characterizing the Post piece as “fundamentally flawed” because it overlooks the distinction between “outsourcing” jobs and “offshoring” jobs.

    In fairness to the Romney camp, they have a point. As Pat Garofalo and Igor Volsky explained, “The official definition of outsourcing is pushing activities outside of the company that could have been performed in-house. A company can outsource, while keeping the activity domestic. Offshoring is the practice of sending jobs overseas.”

    Of course, since Romney himself has blurred the line between the two, and Romney the Candidate has bashed the very practices Bain the Vulture Capitalist supported at Bain Capital, the pushback is not without its flaws.

    For Democrats, meanwhile, this is seen as an important opportunity, at least in part because it’s the kind of issue that will hurt Romney with the same vulnerable, working-class voters he’ll need to win overwhelmingly to get elected. Interest in the revelation is even going all the way to the top.


    President Obama will directly address Romney’s outsourcing at an event in Florida — raising the visibility of the issue — and David Axelrod was eager to identify Romney today as the candidate running to be the “Outsourcer in Chief” during a teleconference with reporters this morning.

    What’s more, Capitol Hill Democrats will “very likely” use the news to refocus attention on Obama’s plan to end tax incentives that allow companies to deduct the costs of moving jobs abroad. Don’t be too surprised if the president’s proposal comes up for a vote in the not-too-distant future, leaving Republicans in an awkward election-year position and leaving Romney with another piece of legislation he doesn’t want to talk about.

  9. rikyrah says:

    From Charles Pierce about Joe Williams:

    This is how Mr. Charles P. Pierce explained it:

    Here’s your disclaimer: Joe Williams is a friend of mine. He is also one of the best political reporters I know and, when he landed at Politico, I thought, well, at least there will be one person there who isn’t completely dedicated to the notion that American politics should be covered the way it would be in The Daily Racing Form, if The Daily Racing Form were a slam book kept by a not-very-bright seventh grader.

    Turns out that said seventh-grader also is, in words that the Supreme Court just on Thursday gave me permission to use “fleetingly” on television, a chickenshit motherfucker.

    Joe said some unkind things about Willard Romney and white people. Joe retweeted a joke about Ann Romney’s maladroit quote about “unzipping” her husband. A ludicrous Tinker Toy news outlet stamped its tiny feet, and then the assembled mourners over at Andrew Breitbart’s Mausoleum Of Unemployables got themselves outraged, and Politico folded like a cheap suit. This should be a caution to any real reporters who work there now, or who may be thinking about working there in the future. Your bosses can be frightened away by a preposterous political grocery flyer, and by a website run by a cargo cult that worships a deceased angry drunk. They do not have your back.

  10. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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