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Plot:

At Maria Vargas’ funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards scouted her at a shabby nightclub where she worked as a flamenco dancer. He convinces her to take a chance on acting and her first film is a huge hit. PR man Oscar Muldoon remembers when Maria was in court supporting her father who was accused of murdering her mother. It was Maria’s testimony that got him off and she was a bigger star than ever. Alberto Bravano, one of the richest men in South America, sets his sights on Maria and she goes off with him – as much to make Edwards angry as anything – but he treats her badly. When she meets Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini they fall deeply in love. They are married but theirs is not to be a happy life.

Also Known As: Босоногая графиня Soviet, Barfotgrevinnen, Die barfüssige Gräfin West, Den barfodede grevinde, Çiplak ayakli kontes, Mezítlábas grófnő, I xypoliti komissa, La Condesa descalza, La comtesse aux pieds nus, Barfotagrevinnan, Босоногата графиня, Bosonoga contessa, Die barfüssige Gräfin, Paljasjalkakreivitär, La comtessa descalça, La condesa descalza, Die barfüßige Gräfin, Die barfüßige Gräfin West, La contessa scalza, A Condessa Descalça, Η ξυπόλυτη κόμισσα, Bosonoga kontesa, The Barefoot Contessa, De barrevoetse gravin

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  • julie-berntsen
    julie berntsen

    This is a long and at times tedious film. It could be called “a woman’s search for love,” but it is really the film-maker’s search for a story. That it is strung together via flashbacks inserted in the “contessa’s” funeral is merely a way of admitting as much. The film does have one brilliant technique — that is, the repeat of a scene we have already seen, shot from a different angle, and, this time, explaining via providing background what the scene means. I don’t know of any other film that has ever used this device. The film feels as if it has been “written.” The dialogue — particularly Ava’s and that of the showdown between the two rich men at the party — conveys dry ink, not spontaneous speech. The film could have been edited by about a half hour, and Ava’s long-standing relationship with her “cousin” needed to be clarified or eliminated. Bogart’s heated objection to the cousin and the relationship was pointless — something left in that ended up making no sense in the context of the outcome. And the outcome was radically unconvincing. But to explain why would be to inflict a spoiler upon my summary.

  • cody-bates
    cody bates

    A quietly moving film about the short life of a curiously indescribable woman, Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner), and the men who knew her. Joseph L. Mankiewicz is probably most famous for his film All About Eve, which he both wrote and directed, as he did with The Barefoot Contessa. He structures Contessa much the same as he does Eve, starting the film at the end of the story and then working backward through flashbacks. This time we begin at Maria’s funeral, and three men who are attending it narrate her strange and melancholy story. Humphrey Bogart is arguably the lead actor, as he narrates the majority of the film, probably about half. He plays Harry Dawes, a washed-up movie writer/director who is carried along to Madrid by his producer, Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) and his producer’s assistant, Oscar (Edmond O’Brien, who won a much-deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar; Oscar is the second narrator). They go to Madrid to pursue Maria, whose name has started to become famous in Europe. While Maria at first refuses, Harry is able to convince her to come where others have failed. Where one might expect Mankiewicz to make The Barefoot Contessa about Hollywood what All About Eve was to Broadway, the film has little to do with Hollywood. We do experience a couple of Hollywood parties, but the film is more concerned with the world of the fabulously wealthy. Maria has grown up poor and rather wretched – she has many sad stories about her life during the Spanish Civil War – and she can hardly relate to anyone around her. Harry comes the closest; he’s more down to earth. Maria is such a fascinating character. We know a lot about her – but, then again, we know so little. The film never really does define or understand her, but that is the point. Mankiewicz almost tops All About Eve with his dialogue here; sometimes it’s almost too good. The story and its structure work perfectly, and Mankiewicz does not repeat his one mistake from All About Eve, that is, he doesn’t shove our faces in the film’s point. We’re left to ponder, which I think is going to make me remember this one a lot longer than I will All About Eve. 10/10.

  • lovro-hocevar
    lovro hocevar

    A young Spanish dancer becomes a big movie star in Hollywood but dies after only three films. Mankiewicz was a writer first and director second. When the script was not good, all his flaws as a pedestrian director were exposed. As with many of his films, this dreary soap opera relies heavily on narration and talking heads to tell the story rather than the camera. The story is not very interesting and the big finish is silly and anti-climactic. Bogart is about the only reason to watch this and it really drags when he is not on the screen. Gardner is rather vacuous in the title role. O’Brien is pretty good but it is surprising that he won an Oscar for this role.

  • bobby-gray
    bobby gray

    The film begins in Spain where a totally obnoxious and evil rich producer (Warren Stevens) has come to offer a talented Spanish lady (Ava Gardner) a film contract. His entourage includes an alcoholic director who is on the wagon (Humphrey Bogart) and a fast-talking idiot PR man (Edmund O’Brien). Ms. Gardner makes it big in Hollywood, but seems bored with it all and spends much of the rest of the movie running from herself until a very tragic conclusion.Aside from a few clichés here and there, this is a pretty good film and has a pretty cynical view of stardom. However, I also felt pretty annoyed at times during the picture because most of the characters in the film are amazingly wealthy and/or famous and they spend all their time whining about how bored they are!! This is exactly the sort of film that gives Communist revolutionaries the incentive to destroy the ‘decadent Capitalists’! The character Ava Gardner played was on top of the world but also spent much of the film in a depressed stupor and the rich guys around her were ALL selfish louts. In fact, the only decent person in the entire film was Bogart.While very watchable, the film is highly reminiscent of the Godard film, CONTEMPT, as well as THE SUN ALSO RISES (also starring Gardner). It’s almost like the producers of the these other two films teased apart THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA and broke it into two films.

  • ricardo-de-hoz
    ricardo de hoz

    This film covers a lot of the same themes as Sunset Boulevard, though in my opinion that film is more riveting than this one. It’s hard to believe Bogart got top billing for this one since this film clearly revolves around Ava Gardner’s Maria Vargas. In fact I think you could plug practically anyone world-weary and haggard into Bogart’s role and the film wouldn’t lose much. I guess they felt they needed his starpower to sell the movie. He just doesn’t have much to do in this film. On the other hand Edmond O’Brien is truly memorable as the sweaty publicist. He deserved the Oscar he got for the role. Maria’s relationship with Count Favrini seemed a bit rushed but not to the point that it is totally unbelieveable. Afterall Maria’s whole life is supposed to be a fairy tale. I wish somehow they could’ve developed the role of Kirk Edwards. He came across as one-dimensional. This film being so old, there is no commentary to explain the purpose for this or whether it was by design at all. Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed the film and appreciated its message, 8/10.

  • dante-fiore
    dante fiore

    Jo Mankiewicz wrote and directed some beautiful and clever scripts. The Barefoot Contessa is simply the worst example of what his talent could give us.You can easily sum up the flaws here: it’s overscripted. And visually Mankiewicz fails to build up this celluloid character from Ava Gardner’s feet. She’s hardly touching and appealing.Modern Cinderella… Mankiewicz must have had enough of Tinseltown by then. He pieces together a bunch of colourful characters saying their lines alone in an artificial structure made of recurring flashbacks with annoying changes of narrator. In this 128 min doomed fairy tale Bogart is just ok but the rest of the cast is wooden.All About Eve, for one, was cleverly scripted with witty dialogue and engaging characters.

  • matthew-mccarty
    matthew mccarty

    I always try to agree with all the entries in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and this was another one of them, from director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Sleuth). Basically Countess Torlato-Favrini, or Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) is having her burial, and through flashbacks Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart) recalls meeting her. In the past, wealthy Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) hires down on his luck Harry as screenwriter and director for his next picture, and they are travelling to Spain to find their new star. There they meet Oscar Muldoon (Oscar and Golden Globe winning Edmond O’Brien), public relations, who manages to help them meet nightclub dancer Maria to arrange an audition. Being a little naive and simple, Maria is convinced to go to Hollywood, make some films with new friend Harry, and she also gets to like his girlfriend Jerry (Elizabeth Sellars). But it is not just Harry recounting his time with Maria, the flashbacks also show her acquaintances with sweaty publicist Kirk, millionaire Alberto Bravano (Marius Goring), and handsome French Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini (Rossano Brazzi). She believes she has found her prince charming in the Count, and they marry, but it turns out not to be what she had hoped for, and she is devastated to be pregnant. Also starring Valentina Cortese as Eleanora Torlato-Favrini, Franco Interlenghi as Pedro Vargas, Mari Aldon as Myrna and Bessie Love as Mrs. Eubanks. Bogart does pretty well as the snarling film director, O’Brien I guess deserved his award for his chatty character, and Gardner barefoot (which could have been a little more) and not is glamorous. I may not have understood everything going on, and I found it a little long after a while, but what I did pay attention to made it a reasonable satire of the movie business, and an alright drama. It was nominated the Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay for Mankiewicz. Good!

  • alan-higgins
    alan higgins

    The early fifties saw several excellent films made in Hollywood about Hollywood itself, such as “Sunset Boulevard”, “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”. “The Barefoot Contessa” also falls into this category. The main female character, Maria Vargas, is a famous actress and the leading male one, Harry Dawes, is a veteran director and screenwriter, although the film does not deal with the technicalities of movie-making quite as much as, say, “The Bad and the Beautiful”. The emphasis is more on Maria’s private life than on her professional career, and we never see any clips from her films. The film begins with a scene set at Maria’s funeral, with the main story told in flashback. It follows the normal structure of the “woman’s picture”, which was a popular genre in the forties and fifties. Such films were primarily aimed at a female audience and generally had a strong female figure as their leading character. The plot revolved around this female character and her life and loves, with male characters being defined in terms of their relationship to her. Maria becomes a Hollywood star after she is discovered dancing in a Spanish night club story by Kirk Edwards, a business tycoon turned film producer. Her story is narrated by three of the men in her life- Harry, who becomes her friend but not her lover (he is happily married), Oscar Muldoon, a publicist working for Edwards, and Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini, the Italian Count who becomes her husband. (The title derives from the title Maria acquires on her marriage and the fact that she likes to dance barefoot). Another important character is Maria’s lover Alberto Bravano, a wealthy Latin American playboyAs with “The Bad and the Beautiful” there has been a lot of speculation as to whether any of the characters were based on real-life individuals. (Howard Hughes, for example, has been suggested as the model for Edwards and Rita Hayworth for Maria). I suspect, however, that Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who acted as both writer and director of the film, would have been too cautious to risk upsetting any of his Hollywood colleagues by basing his characters too obviously on any living individual, and the studio would not have wanted to risk a possible libel suit. Certainly, one can always find significant differences between the characters and those individuals upon whom they were supposedly based; Hughes, for example, may have had his faults, but he had a real passion for film- making, unlike Edwards who has only moved into the industry because he sees it as a money-making opportunity. 1954 was a vintage year for Humphrey Bogart, as it was the year when he made three of his finest films, this one, “Sabrina” and “The Caine Mutiny”. In his early days as a major star, he tended to specialise in a few genres- gangster pictures, films noirs, war films and Westerns, generally as a tough guy or action hero. In the last few years of his life, however- he was to die less than three years after completing “The Barefoot Contessa”- he was to extend his range, into comedy (“We’re No Angels”), romantic comedy (“Sabrina”) and into playing flawed, emotionally vulnerable characters (“The Caine Mutiny”, “The Left Hand of God”). Harry Dawes is in some ways, such as his world-weary cynicism, a typical Bogart character, but in others he too represents a new departure for the actor. Although Harry is the leading role- he has more screen time than any other male character- he is (unlike most Bogart characters) a bystander, someone who comments on the action rather than participating directly in it. Edwards, Bravano and the Count all play much more active roles in Maria’s life. This was one of a number of films- others include “The Killers” and “Bhowani Junction”- which show that Ava Gardner deserves to be remembered as a serious actress, not just as a sex symbol. Maria can be seen as a tragic heroine- not in the sense that she is destroyed by a flaw in her character but in the sense that she falls victim to a cruel irony of fate; in a desperate attempt to please the one man whom she truly loves she only succeeds in provoking his anger and jealousy. I have always had a high regard for this film, so I am surprised at some of the negative comments on this board. One reviewer compares it to a soap opera, but few soap operas can call upon actors as gifted as Humphrey Bogart, or Edmond O’Brien, or have dialogue as witty and literate as that written by Mankiewicz. Soap operas tend to be excessively melodramatic, but this is not the case with “The Barefoot Contessa”; much of the film, particularly in the first half, is taken up with dialogue rather than physical action, and potentially melodramatic elements in the plot, such as the trial of Maria’s father for the murder of her mother, tend to be played in a low-key manner. Only at the end, when we learn the manner of Maria’s tragic death and the reason for it, does strong emotion predominate, and it would have been ridiculous to have played these scenes in anything other than an emotional way. This is not perhaps Mankiewicz’s finest film- in my view that is probably “All About Eve”, another film with an actress at its centre. It is, however, a fine study of the rise and fall of a twentieth-century goddess. 8/10

  • timothy-barnett
    timothy barnett

    Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ The Barefoot Contessa exerts the baleful fascination of an uncoiling serpent. It’s one of a brood of movies dating from about 1950 (Sunset Boulevard, The Bad and The Beautiful, A Star Is Born, Two Weeks in Another Town, The Legend of Lylah Clare) that shows Hollywood turning poisonously on itself. But while Mankiewicz’ similar lowdown on Broadway, All About Eve, transformed all the backstage bitchery and mordant cynicism into entertaining, brittle artifice, The Barefoot Contessa sinks into its own fetid swamp. It reeks of private scores being settled, of spiteful inside jokes. An unpleasant party of American filmmakers, none of whom likes the others, descends on a dive in Madrid to watch Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) dance flamenco. But the haughty peasant girl won’t consort with patrons, even with a filthy-rich icepick of a producer (Warren Stevens), who sends first his toadying publicist (Edmond O’Brien) then a director in his employ (Humphrey Bogart) to fetch her. Ultimately she relents, journeys to Hollywood, and becomes the toast of the town. The possessive, controlling Stevens pushes her too hard, and she leaves him for an even wealthier South American playboy (Marius Goring). When, he, too, pushes hard, a proud Italian nobleman waits in the wings to make her his Contessa.The central portrait of Gardner descends from the proto-feminist carnality of her compatriot Carmen (as drawn by Prosper Merimée and Georges Bizet). For various reasons, her relationships with the four principal males in the story stay chaste; she reserves her passion for flings with lusty men of the same soil in which she likes to dig her unshod toes. (The avuncular Bogart numbers among her platonic lovers, wed as he is to doting Elizabeth Sellars, who looks like Dorothy Kilgallen in her What’s-My-Line couture).But, as the 1950s never tired of telling us, unbridled sexuality leads to death. The movie opens at the Contessa’s rainy funeral, and returns there again and again like a tolling bell. That sets the lugubrious, portentous tone – a splashy threnody. But The Barefoot Contessa is closer in spirit to a pulpy potboiler, with its movie-colony parties and casinos at Cannes, and with characters suggesting Porfirio Rubirosa and the exiled Windsors.Mankiewicz, a wildly uneven director, misfires badly here, with an overlong, overblown melodrama that some ruthless nipping and tucking might have made more svelte. (He even repeats an entire scene, shot from a different angle, but to no rhetorical point.) The dialogue shows grease stains from all the midnight oil, and what in All About Eve was overwrought and epigrammatic has become arch, too cleverly coy. Though Gardner took the title role, the center of attention defaults to Bogart, starting to look old and ill but still the best thing in the movie. O’Brien walked away with a supporting-actor Oscar for his part, though he lent much finer support in two better pictures, The Killers and White Heat. Both Goring and Brazzi could benefit from subtitles. Voice-overs disorientingly shift from character to character, like a relay race. The freshest element in the production is the camera work from Jack Cardiff, who defied the garish Technicolor of the era to give The Barefoot Contessa a muted, autumnal look. He and Bogart are the only two participants who guessed the movie’s intended key right.

  • jindrich-kucera
    jindrich kucera

    I have always felt that if Humphrey Bogart had not died in 1957 he would have gradually left the lead roles of his greatest films to pick up very juicy character roles, and the film that convinces of this is THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA. His Harry Dawes is not the hero of this tragedy – there is no hero, just a heroine who loses all. Harry is her closest confidante and guide, for he sees the talent that makes Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) the great film star she becomes, but he realizes that she is a very real and good person – but a terribly naive one for all that in a corrupt world. It is Harry’s sad duty not only to help tell the audience the story, but to watch (one might say inevitably) Maria destroy herself.Harry is one of the people that wealthy control freak Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) finds available because they are on beams end. Harry has had drinking problems, and his career as a film director is in the toilet. Edwards has found Maria in the slums of Madrid, and believes she has great potential. He wants Harry to direct her in a film test, just to be sure. Harry has little choice, and does the test – but he gets to know Maria and win her trust. And he finds a way to somehow do his work for Edwards but give Maria a fighting chance to not be under Edwards’ iron glove control.We watch Maria’s career progress, with her honesty able to capture public approval when she runs to defend her father from a homicide charge. Later we see her successfully break with first Edwards, and then his Latin American rival Alberto Bravano (Marius Goring) and then falling in love with the Count Vincenzo Torlato – Favrini (Rossano Brazzi) whom she marries in the belief he is her long awaited knight in shining armor. But the Count has a secret, and in learning it and trying to overcome it Maria destroys all she achieved in four short years.All of Joseph Mankiewicz’s films are literate – he is possibly the most verbally careful of all major film directors. Some by the way find that THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA may stray too far afield because of the dialog (most of the film’s narration is during a funeral). But he still gets some very effective scenes in. The confrontation between Edwards, a humorless example of the Puritan work ethic, and Bravano (who for all his defects is honest about enjoying his money and position to appreciate living) at a party is a great highpoint. So is such a minor moment as when a royal pretender to a throne makes a tragically accurate comparison between himself and Torlatto – Favrini. So stick to that dialog – it pays off.The film is also a roman-a-clef. Some of the characters are obviously clones of real people. Edwards the millionaire control freak is based on Howard Hughes, especially with private contracts for performers like Jane Russell. Bravano has a lot of the Dominican Republic playboy Porfirio Ruberosa. The background of Maria Vargas is supposedly based on that of Rita Casino (Rita Hayworth). I am sure that Harry Dawes is based on some directors that Mankiewicz knew of, as was Edmond O’Brien’s publicist and factotum Oscar Muldoon (catch his scene on the telephone talking to Harry when the latter is in Hollywood and Oscar is in London, or his final break with Edwards – “the Party’s Over” – and realize this role, not D.O.A., was the one that netted O’Brien his Oscar for best supporting actor). A fascinating study of the limits of movie fame and fortune in winning happiness.Final note: Mankiewicz apparently could not avoid having a small joke at the expense of his audience. When we see Maria’s first film, the marquee has a poster that mentions the screenplay is by “Lloyd Richards”. “Lloyd Richards” (Hugh Marlowe) was the dramatist who wrote plays for Margo Channing and Eve Harrington in Mankiewicz’s classic ALL ABOUT EVE!

  • gigla-asanize
    gigla asanize

    I had often wondered why it took so long to finally catch up with ‘Contessa’ now I think perhaps I understand. This must have either played to half filled movie houses or emptied them rather quickly. The undeniably multi-talented Joeseph L. Mankiewicz must have been hoping to cash in on his earlier success with the similarly themed ‘All About Eve’ here, he transfers the setting from Broadway to Hollywood – but with very different results. Where Eve bristled, Contessa fizzles out like Champaign left uncorked overnight. Gardener only had to look delicious (for those who like their women overly thin) and it often seemed as if she was taking her lines from a prompter. Bogart (foolishly chain smoking) is well cast but looks very unwell and perhaps not comfortable with some of his lines. He fares best of all the cast – even though, surprisingly, Edmond O’Brian took the acting Oscar for his overcooked portrayal as the soulless producers press assistant (what were the Academy thinking?) Jack Cardiff’s location footage glistens but is rarely allowed to shine -saddled with a turgid script that flounders ponderously under its somewhat melodramatic themes. How this painfully obvious treatment garnered so many Rotten Tomato raves is quite beyond belief. Many of the press reviews of the day were more on-the-money, along with numerous IMDb users comments. Not the best representation of its day and coming in at 2hr 10mins way too long to maintain complete interest. Maybe OK for lovers of the stars or movies about Hollywood, although I think “The Big Knife” may have summed much of it up with less gloss & more succinctly.

  • dr-samantha-simon
    dr samantha simon

    (I want to preface my review by stating that I have posted many reviews and am a positive and fair minded critic. This is by far the most negative one I have ever written.)(I also thoroughly appreciated the excellent commentary by John Holder on page 1 of “hated it.” I have seen 2400 films in my 64 years and this is one of the top 10 worse big budget so-called A level films I have ever seen.)This is the second time Ava Gardner has appeared in a film where her husband or lover has somehow lost his penis or else lost its use. This was the problem in the Hemmingway classic novel “The Sun Also Rises” that was made into a film in 1958 when Jake Barnes (played by Tyrone Power) either had Mr. Johnson shot off in WWI or else had it so damaged that he could not use it. I did not understand what happened to Ava Gardner’s husband (Rossano Brazzi) in “The Barefoot Contessa.” Was his penis shot off? Did he have PTSD(shell shock in those days)? Did it get damaged and cause him to become impotent? Was he gay? Was he a latent homosexual who found out that Ava could not satisfy him? Talk about a hard luck dame (1950s language). No writer has mentioned that Ava’s character was an uneducated peasant woman who did not even have an elementary school education yet she spoke as if she were a college English professor. Talk about stilted language, this takes the cake. The scene where Warren Stevens (Kirk Edwards) and Marcus Goring (the rich playboy) had their verbal confrontation was so silly that I spit up the burrito I was eating. They stood at opposite ends of the lavish mansion and in an excessively theatrical manner started hurling insults at each other. I expected them to challenge each other to a duel. Edmund O’Brien, a fine actor, seemed to have overloaded on caffeine or worse. Rossano Brazzi seemed stupefied as to what motivated his ridiculous character. Humphrey Bogart spent the 1950s attempting to stretch his roles. This was a stretch that Wilt Chamberlain in his prime could not reach. Ava Gardner was being portrayed as an innocent in the woods yet in 1950s style movie subtlety she was sleeping with her “cousin,” her chauffeur, the deck hand on her husband’s yacht and the gypsy to whom she threw her gambling casino winnings. Joseph Mankiewitz won back to back double Academy Awards in 1949 and 1950 for writing and directing “A Letter to Three Wives” and “All About Eve.” He was a fine writer for almost 20 years before becoming a director. This was his Waterloo.

  • flor-da-nunes
    flor da nunes

    This sometimes slow, but interesting, movie has a number of strengths, most notably its characters, writing, and settings. The cast also features some fine performances from Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, and Edmund O’Brien. The ‘contessa’ herself is undeniably the center of attention, but there is also much more to appreciate.Gardner does well in personifying Maria, a character with an unusual mix of earthiness and innocence. The symbolic contrast between wearing shoes and going barefoot seems at first to be a rather obvious device, but as the character is developed, it gradually takes on more meaning. Gardner, with a lot of help from the Joseph Mankiewicz script, is convincing amidst Maria’s changing fortunes in love and in her career.Bogart is an ideal choice to play the director, whose own nature has an unexpected combination of world-weariness and integrity. And O’Brien gets one of his very best roles, as a press agent who is largely a parasite, but who turns out to have a couple of interesting things inside of him.On the surface, the story is a relatively simple tale of a young ‘discovery’ and of what happens to her after she finds sudden fame. Yet the contrasts and conflicts among the characters, and the contrasts between them and their surroundings, make for plenty of good material. The multiple narratives and the dialogue help considerably in bringing out many of these possibilities. It’s an interesting and effective movie that makes its characters come alive, and allows you to spend a couple of hours in their world.

  • sophia-holmes
    sophia holmes

    An oddity for a decade prone to fairy tale type movies. After all, the build-up is that of a fairy tale coming true for peasant girl Maria (Gardner). In stages she’s lifted from poverty– first, by a film director who gets her a screen test; then, from a successful test she becomes a successful star; after which, she blossoms into a popular super star. From those heights, however, she unwisely marries a rich man (Goring), who soon proves intolerably abusive. In a ballroom showdown, she’s happily rescued by a handsome Prince Charming (Brazzi) who spirits her to his European castle to be married. But there, just as her Cinderella tale seems to be coming true, she finds out her Prince’s secret, a word that unfortunately could not be used in 1954. So we’re left to infer the problem and the movie’s crux.Small wonder the story’s told in a series of flashbacks from Maria’s graveyard funeral. Thus, interest is aroused from the start as to why a girl so young and wealthy could possibly be dead. On my view, the movie’s really a modern fairy tale turned into a tragedy. For example, consider a recurring theme; namely, Maria’s constant attachment to bare feet over shoes. That I take as an underlying desire for a naturalness stripped of the kind of social pretensions shoe styles can convey. Thus, her struggle, on this view, is really between the stark reality of feet and the societal contrivance of shoes. Extrapolated a bit, it can also convey the importance of foundations to a person’s well-being. Perhaps that’s why she seems reluctant to accept her fairy tale climb– it goes against a deeper instinct. Be that as it may, in view of the ending, it’s too bad she doesn’t stick with instinct rather than temptation.All in all, the indie production was a biggie of that year, featuring two marquee stars, a lavish production, and Hollywood honcho Mankiewicz in charge. Unsurprisingly, it all led to some Oscar go-rounds. Never mind that Hollywood doesn’t come off looking very good in the persons of tyrannical producer (Stevens) and sycophantic public relations man (O’Brien). There’s still enough gloss, travelogues, and close-ups of the beauteous Gardner to keep us diverted. Happily, Bogie gets his trademark role as a cynical observer, while Gardner gets to show she’s more than a pretty face, along with O’Brien who bathes in fast-talking. Not much really happens besides character development. So, credit director Mankiewicz for keeping things moving. Though dated, the movie’s worth catching up with; that is, if you can stand the taboo word “impotence”, which the 1954 movie obviously couldn’t.

  • avetis-dadalyan
    avetis dadalyan

    When a movie opens with the funeral of the main character, you know you are in for a long, sad ride. Really long, in this case – the movie clocks in at two hours. With the inevitability of a tragic death fixed at the opening, it’s hard not to see the entire film through filter of sadness.The Barefoot Contessa follows the rise, perpetual dissatisfaction and demise of a beautiful, charismatic Maria Vargas, a young Spanish woman played by Ava Gardner. A powerful wall street type turned movie backer wants her to be the new face and visits her in her small village, dragging along a PR man, the director and washed up actress. There are two narrators – a little confusing at times – but most of the movie is relayed from the perspective of Humphrey Bogart, a sad sack, world weary writer/director (in a mythical time when writers were as famous as the stars). He was great, as always, and Gardner was good but lacked oomph for someone supposedly able to set the world on fire.I think that was due mainly to the direction, she wasn’t allowed to sparkle; quite the opposite, she was prohibited from shining. The odd thing about the movie is how much of her action happened off screen. When Hollywood arrives in her village to see her dance, we only see her hands clicking castanets. When she has a screen test which dazzles jaded directors and, we don’t see it. When she makes three movies, we never see her on set or even get a hint of what she was like in the movies. When she rises to the top of the celebrity mountain with legions of adoring fans, we don’t see them or even understand why. In fact, all she really does is mope around and wait for her demise. The only time she is allowed to partially captivate is during an odd scene where she hand-dances at a Gypsy camp.It must have been intentional, and added to the doomed mood throughout. Instead of the details, instead of watching a small town girl lose her innocence (though she always seemed quite confident, self-possessed and resigned to her fate) we see the outcomes — cruel people growing crueler, the dehumanizing effect of fame and redemption for a few characters (Bogart’s character finds true love after three marriages and manages to kick the booze habit for good). Mostly we see barefoot Ava, drifting through life, never able to let herself be happy, or fall in love, or enjoy success, or even laugh. And we are never really able to understand why. The opening shot shows that she is doomed and I was never able to shake that inevitability throughout.Still well worth the time.– http://www.cowboyandvampire.come

  • bertil-steffensen
    bertil steffensen

    I expected much more out of the writer of this film. Was he not the creator of “All About Eve”? That was a wonderful satirical work with interesting, believable characters. This movie seemed to be ponderously written with a series of one-dimensional characters, most of them cliches. Humphrey Bogart did his best, but Ava Gardner was unsatisfying, though beautiful to look at–a paper doll. Edmond O’Brien played his shallow part well, but I was amazed to learn that he took the Oscar from Steiger, Cobb, and Malden in their great turns in “On the Waterfront.” I hold Joseph Mankiewicz responsible. If this movie had been well-written, it could have been truly intriguing.

  • amanda-bengtsson
    amanda bengtsson

    Ava Gardner replaced Rita Hayworth, in the late forties and early fifties, as Hollywood’s leading love goddess… She was less sparkly than Rita, and her reign, coming just before Marilyn Monroe’s, was a short one, but she had certain symbolic virtues that were not to be denied… There is indeed an animal quality about her sensuality… She is a proud, restless tigress, sure of her powers, yet confused about their proper uses…”The Barefoot Contessa,” opens at the rain-drenched gravesite of actress Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) where the people who were involved with her recount how she arrived at this stern destination… They include Bogart as a film director and Edmond O’Brien, who won an Academy Award for his performance as a loud-mouthed press agent… Bogart relates how he was hired to write a screenplay featuring a new glamor girl… He and a rude millionaire interested in movie-making (Warren Stevens) discover Maria dancing in a Madrid cabaret and choose her as their leading lady… She becomes an overnight sensation and helps Bogart regain his lost stature… The remainder of this overlong film then turns to pretentious soap-opera, building to a climax in which Maria and a boyfriend are in face of an impotent husband… The film was populated by harsh, self-indulgent, and unsavory men who all came off second-best to Bogart, a cynical but comparatively likable character…The plot had strong cinematic possibilities, but the script by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed, had ambiguous passages, overly ornate, and ultimately tiresome

  • ovsanna-papikyan
    ovsanna papikyan

    This movie sucks so bad! Bogart and Edmond O’Brien do their best, and there are a lot of snappy one-liners about the movie business. But Ava Gardner is lifeless, the story makes no sense, and the whole thing just oozes “tragedy” in the most artificial sense of the word.Here’s a taste of what THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA is really like:*** *** ***It was raining at the funeral. I stood alone in my trench coat, wondering why Maria had to die. Wondering what made her life different from a cheap movie script. Wondering why the most stunningly beautiful woman who ever lived had to throw herself at an old drunk, a gay count, and some random gypsy with a guitar.Was it the men she loved? Or the love she threw away? Was it the animal in her? Or the beast in the heart of every woman? The questions made no sense. The answers had no meaning. Life is like that. Life, the opposite of death. Not the cereal, or the magazine.Maria never had cereal for breakfast growing up. She crawled out of a Spanish sewer and instantly became a star. But a part of her still craved the stench of life. The passion. The forbidden filth.Perhaps the billionaires who pursued her weren’t filthy enough. Or was it a different kind of filth? Some filth you can’t find in a sewer. Only on the Riviera, or in Hollywood. Maria was pure, too pure for Hollywood. Except when the beast in her sent her running for the filth she once called home. But all of that was just water down the drain.It was raining at the funeral. I stood alone in my trench coat. Waiting for the end of the movie.

  • benjamim-amaral
    benjamim amaral

    This starts very well, more than a little reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard, with initially Humphrey Bogart as the narrator. This is probably one of Bogart’s finest performances, certainly his is a stand out performance in this fairytale romance that can never have a happy end because that is where we come in, in the graveyard. Ava Gardner is good, I don’t know about the claims as to her fabulous beauty, Blue Ray does her no favours, exposing the thickness of make-up but her costumes also seem most constricting and unflattering. But she puts in a good performance, especially in her scenes with Bogart. It is just a shame that the promise at the start of some Hollywood expose and an attack upon the bullying and abusive producers comes to nothing and we talk once more of Cinderella. The last act could lose twenty minutes easily and indeed I would remove the entire performance of Valentina Cortese as the Count’s sister who does not help at all as we descend into an appalling Hollywood cop out ending. Remains watchable, however, for the first half, Ava’s early scenes and the complete Bogart performance only a couple of years before his death.

  • rebecca-padilla
    rebecca padilla

    Scouting talent for an upcoming film to be shot in Italy, a trio from Hollywood (writer/director Bogart, producer Stevens and publicist O’Brien) travel to Spain to scope renowned local dancing sensation Maria Vargas (Gardner). Immediately, they are struck by her beauty and presence. In fact, Gardner has a profound effect on every man she meets…though the effect is as unique as each man she encounters. Stevens sees a talent to be exploited for all it’s worth and O’Brien sees only huge marquees and dollar signs. But Bogart, after a couple of brief but revealing conversations with Maria, sees so much more. Expecting a naive Spanish peasant eager to grab at the brass ring, he finds instead a woman as smart as she is beautiful, whose main motivation is to enjoy the challenge and escape that a Hollywood career might offer a woman who will nevertheless always value the simpler things in life. Even with her inate beauty and uncommon savvy, to Maria’s detriment she does not have eyes in the back of her head. Told in flashback the viewer experiences her success in Hollywood and her quest to find the true love of a man (Brazzi) that has always eluded her.In the hands of Joseph Mankiewicz, “The Barefoot Contessa” frequently bristles with crackling dialogue (would you have expected less?). Unique to this contribution from Mankiewicz is the portent that hangs over the film. As the details of Maria’s life are expounded, empathy for her fate increases accordingly. Impeccably well-cast, this is actually an ensemble film. Gardner is luminous as Maria, though she is not solely dependent on her looks to carry the film–she gives a real performance. Bogart is stalwart and sympathetic as Maria’s protector. And O’Brien, in an Academy Award-winning turn, is sly and oily as the single-minded publicist who changes allegiances as often as his sweat-soaked shirts. Lensed by the great Jack Cardiff and shot largely in Italy, the European ambiance, as well as the snappy dialogue, push the credibility of the premise a notch or two above so many other so-called exposés of Hollywood excess and pretense.

  • dennis-tyler
    dennis tyler

    “The Barefoot Contessa” is a greatly underrated film–which is rather surprising, when you consider the amount of talent involved. First, there’s the brilliant script by Joe Mankiewicz, who was always at his best when dissecting Hollywood and its denizens. The movie’s best scene may be the Hollywood party where Kirk Edwards gets his comeuppance, all booze, boredom and viciousness (“What she’s got, you can’t spell. And what you’ve got, you used to have.”); although the scenes of the pathetic/glamorous European jet set are also excellent, the way Mankiewicz can create a small line or gesture that delineates an entire character. Really, the only time his touch fails him is toward the end, when Maria meets her Count and things get a bit melodramatic.Also magnificent is the cinematography by the always-brilliant Jack Cardiff, who invests everything with color-drenched glamour. (Did you know that, along with shooting such visual masterpieces as “Black Narcissus,” “The Red Shoes” and “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman,” Cardiff was also the cinematogrpaher on “Rambo: First Blood.” Yikes.) Edmond O’Brien won a well-deserved Academy Award for his portrayal of the sleazy PR man Oscar Muldoon, managing to bring hints of depth and dimension to a character that could have easily been pure caricature. Another fine, if brief, supporting turn comes from Mari Aldon as Edwards’ long-suffering mistress, Myrna (especially her “I’m just a scared tramp” exit line).Still, what makes this film work is the presence and performance of Ava Gardner. See “The Barefoot Contessa” and you will understand why many have thought her to be the most beautiful woman ever to grace the screen. She is simply breathtaking. Ava’s appearance alone is enough to give credibility to Maria Vargas’ legendary magnetism–and, without that, the whole film would fail, as it’s really just about three men standing around one woman’s coffin, wondering that made her tick–but it’s her work as an actress that raises the character from beautiful blank to irresistible enigma. Even when her dialogue is a bit trite and soap-opera, she manages to make it believable by making shallowness appear to conceal depth (if you get what I mean), and even does a fine job with the accent. This was the film that earned her the tag “the world’s most beautiful animal,” but Ava Gardner was much more than that.

  • ms-marie-harrison
    ms marie harrison

    Ouch. What can I tell you? “The Barefoot Contessa” is a film so heavy, so un-fun, so self-consciously aware of its own bitter sophistication that I could not find a single saving grace in the picture.Okay, Ava Gardner is luscious, and her lovely breasts are wonderfully showcased. And yes, Bogart manages to turn in a decent performance despite the disastrous dialogue, a tribute to his charm.What went wrong? First and foremost the dialogue, written by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. There is no action in the film- just characters standing and speaking in the most heavy-handed movie metaphors ever committed to screen. Voice-over fills every silence to drown us in details that would have choked the actors outright. Ava Gardner & Bogey share a relationship that spans years… and yet they never have a conversation in which either of them simply says what they mean.BOGEY: Has Cinderella found her Prince Charming yet or must she return to the ball? AVA: The actor writes the role for the screenwriter, not the other way around. And yet all this time, the peasant girl abides, and wonders when she must put on shoes and walk out of the valley forever…!CRINGE! Every time I had a vague notion of what the characters were trying to say my attention waned and I had to start all over again. It wasn’t worth the effort. If you want to know why novels are adapted and condensed before becoming a screenplay this movie stands as a perfect example. “The Barefoot Contessa” would have made a brilliant novel, but as a film it’s a plodding failure.GRADE: D

  • besik-burjanaze
    besik burjanaze

    Ava Gardner is beautiful Spanish dancer Maria Vargas who is discovered and given a Hollywood contract in “The Barefoot Contessa,” also starring Humphrey Bogart, Edmund O’Brien, Rossanno Brazzi, Marius Goring, and Valentina Cortese. Written and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, the story is supposedly based on Rita Hayworth, who turned down the role. There are some similarities – the Spanish roots, the dancing angle, the studio head who desires her but doesn’t get her, a la Harry Cohn, and the great sadness of her life. The famous story about Rita is that her first husband, Edward Judson, was nothing more than a pimp, though he is the man who turned her into a movie star. He demanded that she have sex with Harry Cohn, and Rita refused time and time again. Finally, Judson made a date for himself and Rita to go on a boat trip with Cohn, and Judson cancelled at the last minute, leaving Rita alone with the studio head. She still didn’t go to bed with him.The story begins at Maria’s funeral and is told in flashback by the various men who were in her life. Most of the narration is provided by the Bogart character, writer-director Harry Dawes, who had a unique relationship with Maria – he cared for her deeply and was always there to listen to her and advise her. Maria was a woman whose life was lived as a barefoot Cinderella looking for her prince. Harry has a sixth sense about things, and when Maria is about to marry the man she believes to be her prince, Count Torlati-Favrini, Harry starts to worry. He knows that, as is often pointed out in the film, real life is much more erratic than a movie script.Edmund O’Brien gives a terrific, Oscar-winning performance as a yes man/publicist who does all the talking for the studio head, Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens). Bogart is excellent, but he does not have a great role; although he has top billing, he doesn’t even have the starring role. One suspects he’s there for box office pull.The dialogue has been praised here – Mankiewicz was one of the great dialogue writers, but I found some of the dialogue in this a little pretentious and the pace slow. It’s an interesting story, but for me it doesn’t compare with “All About Eve” and “Letter to Three Wives” in script or in pace.The star of the film is Ava Gardner. For this writer, Gardner and Hayworth were ultimate sex symbol/movie stars – gorgeous, sexy, exciting women. Around 32 here and living the wild life she always did, Gardner is breathtaking to look at. After the beginning of the film, she drops the Spanish accent, but she more than makes up for that in presence. Like Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth, she was one of those actresses whose appearance and private life often received more publicity than her actual acting – but Ava could act. There was always something uninhibited, earthy, sexy, and inherently honest about her performances – and she was that way as a woman, too. I highly recommend her autobiography to anyone who hasn’t read it.To see this marvelous cast and especially to see them in something written and directed by a fine artist like Mankiewicz is worth it, even if it’s a little flawed. Nobody’s perfect.

  • nicholas-hood
    nicholas hood

    This movie sounded like a good idea. It’s about the rise and fall of a female movie star and focuses on the upper-class society and the world of Hollywood but in truth and honesty the movie is just too much of a drag, due to the fact that the story just never seems to take off and the characters are not very compelling ones.It probably foremost is the pace that makes this movie its story come across as slow and dull. It seemed like an interesting idea to tel the story of this actress from the viewpoint of several male characters she met throughout the entire movie. However this way of storytelling instead causes the story to feel like a messy one. I also just don’t see how this movie is a good one as an inside-Hollywood movie or social commentary perhaps. The movie to me just seemed pretty pointless and it wasn’t going anywhere. It all still could had worked out had the characters been better ones.You can’t really blame the actors for not letting the characters work out well enough for the movie. I mean when you have actors like Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner and Edmond O’Brien involved, you can hardly blame the acting can you?The movie is just too much talking and not enough drama or romance involved. I didn’t very much liked watching this movie and didn’t feel involved with it enough but nevertheless I also couldn’t hate it. After all, it certainly ain’t no bad movie but it still is one that comes across as being uninteresting and pretty pointless overall.6/10http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/

  • jorge-hernandez
    jorge hernandez

    Four years after the phenomenal All About Eve, Joseph L Manckiewicz moves away from Broadway and lands in Hollywood. Naturally, everything in Hollywood is bound to be louder, more vulgar, more shallow and more expensive and surprisingly less relatable, less credible. Ava Gardner is breathtakingly beautiful and Jack Cardiff photographs her like a goddess but that’s no match for any of the exchanges between Bette Davis and Thelma Ritter in All About Eve. Here the soap opera elements dominate the tale. The Italian aristocrats as played by Rossano Brazzi and Valentina Cortese take the story for a ludicrous spin. Josseph L Manckiewicz as a writer and director makes sure the film doesn’t become “The Legend Of Lylah Clare” for instance. Humphery Bogart plays the lead and I forgot to mention it. I wonder why. He’s wonderful in it but the Oscar went to Edmond O’Brian for his unbearable press agent. Ava Gardner presence transformed this lurid tale into a classic and it’s bound to remain so for ever.