Wednesday, February 5, 2014

276. The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

Running Time: 130 minutes
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Main Cast: Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Edmond O'Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano Brazzi
Click here to view the trailer


This one was on a "very long wait" from Netflix, however I managed to track it down via OnDemand, so I just decided to get it over with before Netflix got rid of it altogether - which they do from time to time. The prospect of yet another Humphrey Bogart movie wasn't very appealing, but I soldiered through.

The film is told entirely in flashback, as the main characters are gathered together at the funeral of the film's main character, Maria Vargas (Gardner), whom we learn was once a dancer in a Madrid nightclub. The film really gets underway when writer/director Harry Dawes (Bogart), producer Kirk Edwards and publicist Oscar Muldoon (O'Brien) travel to Madrid, looking for a fresh face to star in their latest production. They hear tell of Maria and decide to pay her a visit, but find that getting some face time with her is harder than they expected. Eventually Dawes uses his charm to get into her dressing room and after some convincing, talks her into doing a screen test. The screen test proves that Maria has talent and she's eventually swept away to Hollywood where she lives out a rags to riches story, becoming a star and quick. From there, we get the bullet points of the rest of her life, not only from Dawes' narration at the funeral, but also the narration of Oscar Muldoon and the man who was her husband upon her death, Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini (Brazzi). The rest of the film tells of her leaving the guidance of Kirk Edwards and her affair with Alberto Bravano (Goring), a Latin American playboy who makes the mistake of publicly berating Maria, only to lose her to the Count.

Well it was a Bogart picture, so you might be able to guess what I thought of it. I've learned to just not expect much when Bogey is on the cast list and this was really no exception, except I really can't blame him. I hate to use the word "boring" when describing my dislike for a picture, but "The Barefoot Contessa" was downright boring and that's that. It was too long and I really didn't care about any of the characters. In fact, I was really never given a reason TO care about any of the characters. Why should I care if Maria Vargas goes from rags to riches? Why do I care about her many loves? Why do I care about Dawes, who only shows up when they need him to tell more of the Maria story. His character is NEVER relevant on his own and is really only ever used to advance the story of the main character. Everything revolves around the Maria character and I could just care less about her. Sure, she looked magnificent. It's hard to deny the physical appearance of the beautiful Ava Gardner, however, I'm not convinced her talents were on par with her looks and if I were Bogart, I think I'd have been pissed at being misused. Sure, I don't care for the guy, but there's no denying he was already a made star by 1954 and here, his only use is to play second fiddle to the vixen Gardner. One has to wonder if they really had Bogart carrying Gardner's shoes from set to set.

RATING: 3/10  Can't believe there's still TWO more Bogart films left in THE BOOK. Here's hoping one of them wow's me and helps to wash the bad taste of Bogey out of my mouth.


February 5, 2014  5:54pm


  1. This struck me as a pretty average film... not bad, but there wasn't much I especially liked about it, either. I remember it fairly well given that I saw it 2 years ago, but it just didn't make much of an impact.

    1. I have a feeling I'll totally forget this one. Just didn't impact me at all.

  2. We have agreed to differ over Bogart and his films.. I think he's great, and love almost anything he is in.. but in this case i will make an exception and agree this one failed to grab my attention or interest.
    I'd like you to find a Bogie film you can enjoy.. but I fear it may be like someone hoping I find a Barbara Streisland musical I can like...

    1. Well, technically I DID like "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", but I don't think well enough for it to make a TOP 20 or anything like that. I'd really like to find a definitive favorite, but I won't hold my breath.


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