(director: Charles Vidor; screenwriters: Helen Deutsch/based on the story of Carmen” by Prosper Merimee; cinematographer: William Snyder; editor: Charles Nelson; music: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; cast: Rita Hayworth (Carmen), Glenn Ford (Don Jose), Ron Randell (Andres), Victor Jory (Garcia), Luther Adler (Dancaire), Arnold Moss (Colonel), John Baragrey (Lucas); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles Vidor; Columbia; 1948)
“It doesn’t even have Bizet’s music.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Charles Vidor (“Gilda”/”Cover Girl”/”The Swan”) directs this flat follow-up to Gilda. It’s based on the story of Carmen” by Prosper Merimee and written by Helen Deutsch. The studio in its ads were quick to point out the film is not an opera. Indeed, it doesn’t even have Bizet’s music. What we get is a beautiful looking Rita Hayworth and a routine Carmen story about a lusty thieving gypsy cigarette-factory worker named Carmen (Rita Hayworth), in 19th century Seville, who leads an innocent, socially awkward, love-starved soldier named Don Jose (Glenn Ford) astray. It’s such a tired pic that it will probably please only Rita’s diehard fans, those who love the great ultra-modern Technicolor and those who dig fancy costumes.

A promising young rube Dragoon soldier from the north of Spain, Don Jose, has joined a military regiment in Seville nicknamed the “Gay Police” because of its colorful uniforms (red pants, a yellow blouse, and a red stocking cap). On his first walk around the city, he encounters a frisky gypsy named Carmen stealing oranges and becomes smitten with her. Later, when ordered to arrest her after a street brawl, he disobeys his colonel’s (Arnold Moss) command and joins her thieving cronies. He acts this way because he’s so taken aback by her beauty and not because he has any criminal intentions.

The lumbering film has three highlight scenes: a knife duel between Don Jose and Carmen’s common-law criminal gypsy spouse Garcia (Victor Jory); a fatal confrontation our hero has stemming from Carmen’s flirtation with her latest lover, the bullfighter Lucas (John Baragrey); and the Love Goddess doing what she does best–dance.

Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in The Loves of Carmen (1948)