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USA 1948
Directed by
Charles Vidor
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Loves Of Carmen

Having had a big hit with the classic film noir Gilda (1946) Columbia re-teamed its stars, Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford, with producer-director Charles Vidor for this now largely forgotten gaudily Technicolor historical adventure romance.

Set in early 19th century Spain, Ford plays a naïve young soldier, Don José, whose plans for a glorious military career are derailed when he falls for the beautiful, tempestuous gypsy, Carmen (Hayworth). After accidentally killing her lover, who was also his captain, Don José flees with Carmen and takes up a life of crime with her swarthy gypsy pals, one whom is also her husband. Don José ends up killing him as well but Carmen will not be possessed by any man.

Although very different in style the two films are based on the same triangulated scenario with Hayworth’s femme fatale the object of desire for both her bandit spouse (Victor Jory) and her infatuated victim ( a scenario which also recalls the silent classic Pandora’s Box, 1929). Which, as the plot was based on Prosper Mérimée's novella, 'Carmen', made famous by Bizet’s opera of the same name if nothing else indicates the fertility of the ménage-a-trois set-up.

As Hayworth made Gilda so Gilda made Hayworth and Vidor pulls out all stops to make her again the focus of attention. Very much the Hollywood idea of a gypsy vamp, her good looks are enhanced with the help of top-drawer hair and make-up, eye-catching costumes and a couple of solo song and dance numbers to show off her talents. Ford at 42 is way too old to play the wet-behind-the-ears lover, his foppish hairdo notwithstanding, although on the upside the unusualness for him,of the role does require him to try acting and that is at least worth something.

Whilst in many respects The Loves of Carmen looks like disposable fare, Helen Deutsch’s script does preserve some of the literary quality of its source material as at the same time it grows increasingly melodramatic in temper, the film ending with a well-worked Romantic finale reminiscent of King Vidor’s over-ripe Duel In The Sun which was released two years earlier.

FYI:  Of Spanish descent, Hayworth’s real name was Margarita Carmen Cansino. Charles Vidor and King Vidor who were both of Hungarian descent were not related




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