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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Naked Maja (1959)

Henry Koster (THE ROBE) directs this overblown romance based on an alleged romance between the famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (Anthony Franciosa) and the 13th Duchess Of Alba (Ava Gardner). Historically, there is no evidence that Goya and the Duchess were ever lovers nor that she was the model of one of his most famous paintings La Maja Desnuda which caused quite a scandal in 18th century Spain. But the film supposes that they were lovers and throws in Goya as a victim of the Spanish Inquisition for added drama. The overwrought Franciosa plays Goya as a petulant ill tempered brat, surely the most misconceived portrait of the artist as a backward child until Tom Hulce in AMADEUS. Thankfully there is Gardner at the height of her beauty and breathtaking in her Maria Baroni period costumes. The film's highlight is a sensual dance in a tavern between Gardner and Franciosa. The superb score is by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. With Massimo Serato and Lea Padovani.

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