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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

While touring Spain with a film director (Humphrey Bogart) and a public relations man (Edmond O'Brien in an Oscar winning performance), a wealthy millionaire (Warren Stevens) dabbling in the movie business discovers a flamenco dancer (Ava Gardner). With the help of the director, she will soon become a world famous movie star. But it's not fame and fortune she's seeking. Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, this roman a clef (Rita Hayworth is the template) doesn't have the acidic wit of Mankiewicz's other show business movie ALL ABOUT EVE. It's darker in tone and while it skewers Hollywood and the film industry, there's not much affection shown for that world as there was for Broadway in EVE. But in perhaps her most iconic role, Gardner dazzles as she inhabits the free living independent actress constantly searching for that elusive thing called love. Unfortunately when she finds it, it's anything but happily ever after. If you know someone who doesn't "get" Ava Gardner, this is the movie to show them. Handsomely shot by the great Jack Cardiff (THE RED SHOES) in Italy (even the Hollywood sequences) who does the exterior locations justice as well as Gardner, looking stunning in her Fontana frocks. With Rossano Brazzi, Valentina Cortese, Marius Goring, Elizabeth Sellars, Mari Aldon, Bessie Love, Gertrude Flynn and Franco Interlenghi (SHOESHINE).  

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