Has-been director Harry Dawes gets a new lease on his career when independently wealthy Kirk Edwards hires him to write and direct a film. They go to Madrid to find Maria Vargas, a dancer ... See full summary »
An undercover state cop who has infiltrated an Irish gang and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat.
In an open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their ladies. One of them, Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Manda, a carpenter. Her man Roland belongs ... See full summary »
Has-been director Harry Dawes gets a new lease on his career when independently wealthy Kirk Edwards hires him to write and direct a film. They go to Madrid to find Maria Vargas, a dancer who will star in the film. Millionaire Alberto Bravano takes Maria from Kirk. Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini takes Maria from Alberto. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The character of Maria Vargas is said to be based on Rita Hayworth, who was actually offered the part. Hayworth was a Latina who later married a prince, Prince Aly Khan. However, some elements were taken from Ava Gardner's life as well. The stormy relationship between Maria and the tycoon movie producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) is based on Gardner's own relationship with billionaire film producer Howard Hughes. See more »
After the wedding, when he is talking to Maria, Harry changes his hands from one shot to another, when Vincenzo approaches to them. See more »
Ava Gardner carries herself--and the film--beautifully.
"The Barefoot Contessa" is a greatly underrated film--which is rather surprising, when you consider the amount of talent involved. First, there's the brilliant script by Joe Mankiewicz, who was always at his best when dissecting Hollywood and its denizens. The movie's best scene may be the Hollywood party where Kirk Edwards gets his comeuppance, all booze, boredom and viciousness ("What she's got, you can't spell. And what you've got, you used to have."); although the scenes of the pathetic/glamorous European jet set are also excellent, the way Mankiewicz can create a small line or gesture that delineates an entire character. Really, the only time his touch fails him is toward the end, when Maria meets her Count and things get a bit melodramatic.
Also magnificent is the cinematography by the always-brilliant Jack Cardiff, who invests everything with color-drenched glamour. (Did you know that, along with shooting such visual masterpieces as "Black Narcissus," "The Red Shoes" and "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman," Cardiff was also the cinematogrpaher on "Rambo: First Blood." Yikes.) Edmond O'Brien won a well-deserved Academy Award for his portrayal of the sleazy PR man Oscar Muldoon, managing to bring hints of depth and dimension to a character that could have easily been pure caricature. Another fine, if brief, supporting turn comes from Mari Aldon as Edwards' long-suffering mistress, Myrna (especially her "I'm just a scared tramp" exit line).
Still, what makes this film work is the presence and performance of Ava Gardner. See "The Barefoot Contessa" and you will understand why many have thought her to be the most beautiful woman ever to grace the screen. She is simply breathtaking. Ava's appearance alone is enough to give credibility to Maria Vargas' legendary magnetism--and, without that, the whole film would fail, as it's really just about three men standing around one woman's coffin, wondering that made her tick--but it's her work as an actress that raises the character from beautiful blank to irresistible enigma. Even when her dialogue is a bit trite and soap-opera, she manages to make it believable by making shallowness appear to conceal depth (if you get what I mean), and even does a fine job with the accent. This was the film that earned her the tag "the world's most beautiful animal," but Ava Gardner was much more than that.
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