Vintage Icons • Movies

“The Barefoot Contessa”

7 May, 2014

Year: 1954.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz.


Ava Gardner (María Vargas).

Humphrey Bogart (Harry Dawes).

Edmond O´Brien (Oscar Muldoon).

Rossano Brazzi (Count Vincenzo Torlato-Fabrini).

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It won the Oscar to the Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was nominated to the Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.

The film got many other awards you may consult in the IMDB website.

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  • The character María Vargas was based on Rita Hayworth who also was asked to do the role. Rita was origins from Spain (her parents were Spanish) and she got married with the Prince Aly Khan. However, some of the elements of the movie are also based on Ava Gardner’s real life. The relationship between María and the Producer is the same that had Ava and the magnate Howard Hughes.
  • The story is a flashback told by the three main characters.
  • When Howard Hughes knew that the character of Warren Stevens was base don him, he threatened them with a complaint, since he was been told the character would be a magnate from Texas. The script was changed and the character was then become in a financier from New York.
  • Bogart ensured in his biography he didn’t like to work with Ava Gardner because “she didn’t give you anything to work with”, according to his own words.
  • The Barefoot Contessa was the first Mankiewicz’s work as a scriptwriter, director and producer at the same time. It also was the first job of his film producer Figaro Inc.
  • The scenes outside were shot in the suburbs of Roma, San Remo and Portofino, in Italy.
  • Ava Gardner used to walk barefooted even before this film.
  • Edmund O’Brien’s character was Oscar, and was the only actor who won an Oscar. Redundant, uh?
  • Ava Gardner was practicing for three weeks the scene where she dances with gypsies. She had never danced in a movie before. During the shot of that scene, the sound system broke. She however kept dancing without missing not one step.

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Ava Gardner has never been this beautiful, I’d say. She was a sex-symbol and she was the only one able to do a scene like that one, taking off her bath robe and showing her body in a swimsuit.

In a time where the nude was forbidden, Ava shows one more time why she was known as “the most beautiful animal in the World”.

Her huge sex appeal and her wild and magnetic personality (not only in the film but also in real life) make this movie the best Ava Gardner worked in. This is how Ava will be remembered by her fans.

Bogart and Edmund O´Brien, who do the voice of María Vargas’ conscience, only can fly around Ava. And despite they were better actors than she was in that momento this is with no doubt a film thought to be starred by the unique Ava Gardner.





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