Barefoot Contessa, The (United Artists 1954, Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner)

The Barefoot Contessa

In The Barefoot Contessa a famous film writer and director (Humphrey Bogart) stands by the grave of a beautiful Hollywood star and contemplates her life in a series of flashbacks. Lovely Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) works as a flamenco dancer at a second-rate club when a trio of movieland bigwigs discovers her. Soon she’s acquired fame, riches, and love. On the surface, it seems as if she has it all, but a dark secret in her marriage leads to jealousy, tragedy, and murder. Spicy dialogue from Joseph L. Mankiewicz keeps things interesting.

The flashback structure of The Barefoot Contessa, which begins at a funeral and recalls the deceased’s life, may be writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s homage to Citizen Kane (1941), co-written by his brother, Herman J. Mankiewicz.

Barefoot Contessa

Won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring, Valentina Cortese, Rossano Brazzi, Elizabeth Sellars, Warren Stevens

Screenwriter and Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Director of Photography: Jack Cardiff
Editor: William Hornbeck
Composers: Mario Nascimbene, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Production Designer: Arrigo Equini
Costume Designer: Sorelle Fontana

USA / United Artists / 128 minutes / 1954

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