The Barefoot Contessa

  • 1954
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA is one of those movies that one remembers as better than they actually were. O'Brien won an Oscar for his role and Joe Mankiewicz was nominated as writer, but that's about it. A very complex story finds Gardner dancing in a Madrid nightclub. Stevens has hired Bogart, a faded director, to write and direct a movie about a glamorous woman....read more

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THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA is one of those movies that one remembers as better than they actually were. O'Brien won an Oscar for his role and Joe Mankiewicz was nominated as writer, but that's about it. A very complex story finds Gardner dancing in a Madrid nightclub. Stevens has hired Bogart,

a faded director, to write and direct a movie about a glamorous woman. Gardner likes Bogart and hates Stevens but agrees to make the movie. She is an instant star. Stevens, in a thinly disguised portrayal of Howard Hughes, throws a party for fellow millionaire Marius Goring. Bogart and Elizabeth

Sellars, his girl friend/script girl, arrive. Goring has eyes for Gardner and invites her to join him on his yacht. Stevens forbids it, but she defies him. O'Brien, the toadying press agent, goes to work for Goring. There is no way that Goring is going to get Gardner, but since people assume that

he is sleeping with her, that's enough to soothe Goring's insecurities. At a local casino, Gardner takes some of Goring's cash and tosses it out the window to her latest lover. Goring begins to lose and accuses Gardner of bringing him ill fortune. Goring berates Gardner in public until he is

stopped by Brazzi, a count, who whacks Goring and takes Gardner out of the casino. They fall in love, and Bogart gives the bride away at the wedding. Some time later, Gardner tells Bogart that her beloved husband is impotent, the result of a wound sustained during the war. Gardner loves her

husband so much that she wants to make him a father. Bogart suggests that that might be a bad idea. Brazzi is a very proud man and might not enjoy the thought of his wife getting pregnant by someone else. After Gardner leaves Bogart's hotel room, Bogart looks out the window to see Brazzi's car

following Gardner's auto. Bogart gets into his car and races to the fabulous house they occupy, but he is too late. Two shots are heard from the servant's quarters. Brazzi walks out carrying his dead wife. They call the police and the film ends where it began, at the cemetery. THE BAREFOOT

CONTESSA is marked by Mankiewicz's sharp wit--sometimes too much wit. When there is one character cracking wise, fine. When you have two, okay. But when almost all the characters sound as though they were sitting around the writer's table at the MGM commissary, suddenly credibility goes out the

window. Often it seems as though the screenwriter is writing for his friends rather than for the broad, popular audience that makes a movie a hit.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA is one of those movies that one remembers as better than they actually were. O'Brien won an Oscar for his role and Joe Mankiewicz was nominated as writer, but that's about it. A very complex story finds Gardner dancing in a Madrid nig… (more)

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