The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

The Barefoot Contessa


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Barefoot Contessa begins at the funeral of Ava Gardner, a former Spanish peasant, cabaret dancer and movie star, who at the time of her death was a full-fledged contessa. Her life story unfolds in flashback recollections from her mourners. Film director Humphrey Bogart recalls how his career was saved when he discovered Gardner on behalf of Howard R. Hughes-like mogul Warren Stevens. Press agent Edmond O'Brien remembers how Ava was wooed and then abandoned by mercurial millionaire Marius … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 19, 2001


as Maria Vargas

as Harry Dawes

as Oscar Muldoon

as Alberto Bravano

as Eleanora Torlato-Fav...

as Vincenzo Torlato-Fav...

as Kirk Edwards

as Mrs. Eubanks

as Drunken Blonde

as J. Montague Brown

as Night Club Proprieto...

as Busboy

as Maria's Mother

as Maria's Father

as Mr. Black

as Mr. Blue

as Gypsy Dancer

as The Pretender

as The Pretender's Wife

as Lulu McGee

as Hector Eubanks

as Eddie Blake

as Chambermaid

as Chauffeur
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Barefoot Contessa

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

An imperfect film, but its excesses are as suggestive as its subtleties.

Full Review… | March 23, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Mankiewicz's bitter-sweet satire of Hollywood is extremely well acted by Bogart (witty), Avan Gardner (gorgeous), and Edmond O'Brien, who won the Supporting Oscar.

Full Review… | March 25, 2012

Brilliantly witty but trashy showbiz melodrama.

Full Review… | July 2, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Bogart, Gardner sizzle

October 19, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Audience Reviews for The Barefoot Contessa

An actress, who befriends a washed up Hollywood director, struggles to maintain her integrity in the spurious business of movie-making.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz is a master story-teller. Yes, in this film, he takes the easy way out of exposition by using voice over, but the characters so are finely drawn and theme is carried with deft clarity. Humphrey Bogart proves himself to be an actor, an artist, not just a personality like many movie stars of his era. His scenes with Ava Gardner are rich with subtext, and while there's a palpable sexual attraction between the two characters, both people realize that decorum demands they react as they do.
Mankiewicz's themes of personal integrity and Hollywood's corruption, on display in All About Eve and this film, have universal appeal because there's little that's unique about Mankiewicz's version of Hollywood.
I thought that the writing got a little heavy-handed here and there.
Overall, however, The Barefoot Contessa is a very good, classic film that puts Mankiewicz and Bogart's talents on full display.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Great cast and good story but it misses somewhat and is rather plodding. Good try though.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Not as a good attempt at mythologizing (and demythologizing) a star through multiple perspectives as in All About Eve. The structure of the film is the same and shows how much forward of his time Mankiewicz was in breaking classical narrative within the compounds of Hollywood (still Citizen Kane precedes everything else and one should comment M. for accepting the lesson). Bogard isn't convincing enough in this movie as he still looks like he is out of a gangster film but he has a rare, inner quality of emotion at times. The film totally shines in dialogue (after all this is a Mankiewicz script) just as All About Eve and the brilliant lines come one after the other. For that reason and for the characterization that is created this way it totally deserves to be seen.

George Matalliotakis
George Matalliotakis

Super Reviewer

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