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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
At Maria Vargas' funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards scouted her at a shabby nightclub where she worked as a flamenco dancer. He convinces her to take a chance on acting and her first film is a huge hit. PR man Oscar Muldoon remembers when Maria was in court supporting her father who was accused of murdering her mother. It was Maria's testimony that got him off and she was a bigger star than ever. Alberto Bravano, one of the richest men is South America, sets his sights on Maria she goes off with him - as much to make Edwards angry as anything - but he treats her badly. When she meets Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini they fall deeply in love. They are married but theirs is not to be a happy life. Written by
Edmond O'Brien (Oscar Muldoon) won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. See more »
When Maria goes swimming in the sea, the Count (her fiancée) and his sister are chatting on a nearby terrace. First Maria is wearing an all-white swimsuit, when she emerges from the water 2 minutes later her suit is emerald green. See more »
[to Kirk Edwards at the party]
Take a drink, my friend, and say what you have in your heart. But you never drink. You never say. Because you are afraid of what you have in your heart!
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What exactly was Rossano Brazzi's sexual problem? How does an uneducated peasant woman speak as if she were an English professor?
(I want to preface my review by stating that I have posted many reviews and am a positive and fair minded critic. This is by far the most negative one I have ever written.)
(I also thoroughly appreciated the excellent commentary by John Holder on page 1 of "hated it." I have seen 2400 films in my 64 years and this is one of the top 10 worse big budget so-called A level films I have ever seen.)
This is the second time Ava Gardner has appeared in a film where her husband or lover has somehow lost his penis or else lost its use. This was the problem in the Hemmingway classic novel "The Sun Also Rises" that was made into a film in 1958 when Jake Barnes (played by Tyrone Power) either had Mr. Johnson shot off in WWI or else had it so damaged that he could not use it.
I did not understand what happened to Ava Gardner's husband (Rossano Brazzi) in "The Barefoot Contessa." Was his penis shot off? Did he have PTSD(shell shock in those days)? Did it get damaged and cause him to become impotent? Was he gay? Was he a latent homosexual who found out that Ava could not satisfy him? Talk about a hard luck dame (1950s language).
No writer has mentioned that Ava's character was an uneducated peasant woman who did not even have an elementary school education yet she spoke as if she were a college English professor. Talk about stilted language, this takes the cake.
The scene where Warren Stevens (Kirk Edwards) and Marcus Goring (the rich playboy) had their verbal confrontation was so silly that I spit up the burrito I was eating. They stood at opposite ends of the lavish mansion and in an excessively theatrical manner started hurling insults at each other. I expected them to challenge each other to a duel.
Edmund O'Brien, a fine actor, seemed to have overloaded on caffeine or worse. Rossano Brazzi seemed stupefied as to what motivated his ridiculous character. Humphrey Bogart spent the 1950s attempting to stretch his roles. This was a stretch that Wilt Chamberlain in his prime could not reach.
Ava Gardner was being portrayed as an innocent in the woods yet in 1950s style movie subtlety she was sleeping with her "cousin," her chauffeur, the deck hand on her husband's yacht and the gypsy to whom she threw her gambling casino winnings.
Joseph Mankiewitz won back to back double Academy Awards in 1949 and 1950 for writing and directing "A Letter to Three Wives" and "All About Eve." He was a fine writer for almost 20 years before becoming a director. This was his Waterloo.
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