The Barefoot Contessa Reviews
[color=yellow]Barefoot Contessa (1954)[/color]
[color=yellow]Humphrey Bogart essentially plays the same character in all his movies; world-weary cynic with biting, dry humour. Love the way he disses the brash OTT PR guy who is slow to grasp his subtle comments. Ava Gardner is like WOW strong, independent, defiant and in control. A woman before her time, her character hints that she has always been very proud; "it's like a sickness" and "no man has ever paid for me". This is essentially what motivates her character throughout the story and eventually contributes to her demise when she meets her match; an equally proud Italian Count. This is great dark entertainment if you're in the mood for slightly film noir/glamorous nostalgia. Warning: the film makes use of [slightly annoying] narrative and flashback techniques. [/color]
Harry Dawes is a down on his luck writer/director that finds happiness at the bottom of a glass. A producer sees his talent and carries him around looking for his next big break, and he thinks he found it in Maria Vargas. Maria is a Spanish dancer with a beautiful look and unmatched charisma. She reluctantly decides to work with the producer under the guidance of Dawes. Dawes ensures they only stay friends, but life moves fast for Maria and when she finally lets her guard down for a moment, the world eats her up.
"Many men must be in love with you."
"From the dirt it is hard to tell."
"Haven't you ever been in love?"
"From the dirt it is easy to look at the clouds."
Joseph Mankiewicz, director of Cleopatra, Guys and Dolls, All about Eve, Dragonwyck, The Honey Pot, Julius Caesar, and Sleuth, delivers The Barefoot Contessa. The storyline for this picture was fascinating and is interestingly taken from the real lives of Rita Heyworth (who was offered the lead role) and Ava Gardner (who ultimately starred in this picture). The plot unravels perfectly and the dialogue and monologue was magnificent. The cast delivers remarkable performances and includes Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Warren Stevens, Elizabeth Sellars, Edmond O'Brien, Valentina Cortese, and Rossano Brazzi.
"She hasn't got what I've got."
"What she's got, you couldn't spell. And what you've got, you don't have any more."
I DVR'd this off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) because it starred one of my all time favorite actors, Humphrey Bogart. This is an underrated gem that does have some clumsy scenes in the middle where there's a stretch Bogart, but the movie quickly gets back on track to conclude perfectly. Overall, this is a must see movie and borderline worth adding to your DVD collection.
"In Hollywood it is not easy to become a star."
"Where is it easy?"
A very dull romance triangle that seemingly just went no where at all, just seemed like continuous pointless dialogue.
This film lacked so much... sets, good performances & to my disbelief the most wooden performance actually received an Oscar...how is this? A very frustrating & disappointing film.
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.
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.