Time: 128 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (O'Brien). Nomination for Best Screenplay.
THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA is a picture about the rise of a movie goddess and I'm sure many a tale of newly discovered talent had endings just like it. Never for a moment was I convinced of the Gardner's character's humble beginnings. She's a movie star from the minute she appears onscreen. It's the first movie I've ever seen with Miss Gardner and I have to say she blew my socks off. Not only is she stunning, she's quite the actress as well. Since I'm also a big fan of Bogie's, watching THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA turned out to be an afternoon very well spent.
This is a story that makes those of us who've dreamed about the joys of money and fame take a step back and reconsider our ideas of the good life. The film begins with the "discovery" of Maria Vargas (Gardner), a young, beautiful and talented dancer from Spain. Wall Street Tycoon Kirk Edwards (Stevens) has decided to become a Hollywood producer and he needs a fresh new face to launch his new venture.
He sends his right-hand man/slave PR guy Oscar Muldoon (O'Brien) back to Maria's dressing room to convince her to meet him. He has no luck, so Edwards demands that Harry Dawes (Bogart), an on-the-wagon, once successful writer/director, go talk to her. Harry doesn't like taking orders from anybody, but these days he has very few chances left. He meets Maria, who surprisingly knows who he is, and convinces her to at least talk to Edwards and do a screen test. What has she got to lose? Well, since the film happens mainly in flashback and begins at her funeral, apparently everything.
She immediately dislikes Edwards, who views her as nothing but a pretty face with the potential to make him a lot of money. It's not easy, but Harry is able to convince her to take a chance. What girl could pass up the dream to become a star? Harry and Maria understand each other and form a fast friendship. It only takes 3 movies to make Maria an international sensation, loved by the multitudes, but not her producer. She refuses to play the Hollywood game, going to premieres and parties with Harry and Jerry (Sellers), his girlfriend.