Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The story begins at the funeral of the BAREFOOT CONTESSA, who was once a Hollywood star and told through the eyes of Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart), in flashbacks. Going back in years we see a group Hollywood scouts looking for locations in Europe for an upcoming movie to be filmed in Italy. First to Madrid to check out a local dancer by the name of Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner) as the lead in the new movie. The director Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart), who is going to be directing the new film, producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) and public relations Oscar Muldoon (Edmond O'Brien).

Impressed by Maria's beauty and talent the men talk her into accepting the lead role in the movie which Maria sees as not only a perfect escape from Madrid, but as a way for her to achieve her dreams. Maria has success in three films all directed by Harry, however along the way she begins to see that Hollywood stardom comes at a high price. Now the victim of the men in her life Maria can only express who she is and what she really wants from life to her only true friend Harry. Unhappy with her empty movie career Maria goes back to Europe and picks up with a gambler Albert Bravano (Marius Goring), who treats her as a possession. Then moving on to Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini (Rossan Brazzi), a rich Italian who carries a dark secret of his own. Filming in Europe Harry decides to find Maria and learns she is engaged to Vincenzo. On her wedding night she finds out Vincenzo cannot father children. Now, she has to make a very important decision.

What makes this film work is the wonderful performance of Ava Gardner. If you watch the "The Barefoot Contessa" and you will see why many have said that she is one of the most beautiful woman.

Fun Fact:

The character of Maria Vargas is said to be based on Rita Hayworth who was actually offered the part.


  1. This is my favorite Ava Gardner movie. She is so touching in her portrayal of a woman in search of true happiness. I love the way the story is told too. Your review is so on point -- Maria is a victim of the men in her life. Even those who care about her wind up leading her further away from happiness. You used the word "empty" to describe her and it's perfect. Great job!

  2. On of the best films about film making along with : A Star is Born, The Bad and The Beautiful, Day For Night, and The Big Picture.

  3. Dawn, I enjoyed watching this film today on TCM. It is a very visually beautiful film. Ava Gardner looks stunning. I felt so much empathy for her character. Vicenzo turned out to be a very selfish man. Great review!

  4. Gilby,
    Thank you.This is also one of my favorite Ava Gardner movies.It is so sad to see how she never finds happiness.It seems she makes one wrong decision after another.

    Yes,I agree. I think it is a wonderful movie. I saw it for the first time a couple of months ago.. I never really gave it much thought how for some, Hollywood stardom came at such a high price.

    Thank you.This is a very emotional movie..I agree Ava gave a convincing performance of Maria. I cant help but wonder what Rita Hayworth would have done with the character.

  5. Great post Dawn,

    I have never seen Contessa before..I need to check it out.

  6. Thank you Monty, Welcome to Noir chick flicks.

  7. This is my favorite Ava Gardner role. The clothes in the movie are to die for. The scene where she is dancing with the Gypsies is hypnotic. That is typical Ava. Dancing in the dirt with barefeet. In "real life" she stated that as a child she never liked to wear shoes. She would put them in her mailbox in the morning and play in her barefeet all day. As a fellow southerner, I used to do the same thing and I still prefer to walk around shoeless.

  8. Bmadron, Welcome. The scene where she is dancing with the Gypsies is also one of my favorite scenes.Thank you for sharing some Ava fun facts..

  9. And if you like Ava Gardner, you might enjoy AVA GARDNER: TOUCHES OF VENUS (Entasis Press, 2010), an anthology of fiction, non-fiction, and verse about the inimitable Ava. Ms. Gardner's biographer Lee Server called it "a divine tribute to the Goddess of sex, glamour, and passion."

  10. Thank you Gilbert, I will check out the film, TOUCHES OF VENUS.


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