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The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 29 September 1954 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Eleanora Torlato-Favrini (as Valentina Cortesa)
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...
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Kirk Edwards
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Pedro Vargas
...
Myrna
Alberto Rabagliati ...
Proprietor
...
Busboy
Maria Zanoli ...
Maria's Mother
Renato Chiantoni ...
Maria's Father
Bill Fraser ...
J. Montague Brown
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Storyline

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 in South America, sets his sights on Maria and 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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A girl with many ideas . . . and a man for each ! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

29 September 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La condesa descalza  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (dvd release) (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Perspecta Sound encoding) (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted James Mason, whom he had just directed in Julius Caesar (1953), for the part of the nobleman. MGM executive Nicholas Schenck, who had had a vehement disagreement with the director, would not release Mason for the film. According to Mankiewicz, he ended up with Rossano Brazzi, "who cannot act, cannot be sensual... could hardly speak English..." Ironically, Rosemary Matthews, who was hired to help Brazzi with his English, and Mankiewicz later married. See more »

Goofs

At the party hosted in the house Maria was renting, Jerry's blouse changes from over her shoulders to showing her shoulders multiple times. See more »

Quotes

Harry Dawes: I have a sixth sense that any witch in the world would give her left broomstick to have.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Degrassi: Minis: Lost in Degrassi (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Bittersweet tale of success leading to tragedy
4 March 2000 | by (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

Scouting talent for an upcoming film to be shot in Italy, a trio from Hollywood (writer/director Bogart, producer Stevens and publicist O'Brien) travel to Spain to scope renowned local dancing sensation Maria Vargas (Gardner). Immediately, they are struck by her beauty and presence. In fact, Gardner has a profound effect on every man she meets...though the effect is as unique as each man she encounters. Stevens sees a talent to be exploited for all it's worth and O'Brien sees only huge marquees and dollar signs. But Bogart, after a couple of brief but revealing conversations with Maria, sees so much more. Expecting a naive Spanish peasant eager to grab at the brass ring, he finds instead a woman as smart as she is beautiful, whose main motivation is to enjoy the challenge and escape that a Hollywood career might offer a woman who will nevertheless always value the simpler things in life. Even with her inate beauty and uncommon savvy, to Maria's detriment she does not have eyes in the back of her head. Told in flashback the viewer experiences her success in Hollywood and her quest to find the true love of a man (Brazzi) that has always eluded her.

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. And O'Brien, in an Academy Award-winning turn, is sly and oily as the single-minded publicist who changes allegiances as often as his sweat-soaked shirts. Lensed by the great Jack Cardiff and shot largely in Italy, the European ambiance, as well as the snappy dialogue, push the credibility of the premise a notch or two above so many other so-called exposés of Hollywood excess and pretense.


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