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.