The Barefoot Contessa

1954, Drama, 2h 8m

11 Reviews 2,500+ Ratings

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Movie Info

Washed-up film director Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart) gets a second chance at stardom when he discovers stunning peasant Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) dancing in a nightclub in Madrid, Spain. Goaded by his producer, strong-arming Wall Street financier Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens), Harry convinces her to screen test for, and then star in, his next big picture. But as Edwards' possessive nature and the realities of stardom weigh on Maria, she seeks a genuine lover with whom she can escape.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Barefoot Contessa

Audience Reviews for The Barefoot Contessa

  • Oct 10, 2012
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 24, 2011
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2008
    Great cast and good story but it misses somewhat and is rather plodding. Good try though.
    jay n Super Reviewer

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