Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner

Co-Starring: Edmond O'Brien, Marius Goring, Warren Stevens
Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Other notable contributors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz - screenplay, Jack Cardiff - cinematography

Favorite scene:  Verbal sparring match between multi-millionaires Kirk Edwards (Stevens) and Alberto Bravano (Goring).

Favorite line:  "A press agent is many things, most of them punishable by law." - Harry (Bogart)

Raves:  Mankiewicz can write great lines.  Lines that are not only funny or clever, but thought-provoking.  He makes interesting observations on all aspects of life, the important and the trivial, usually through the use of narration -- think the Mankiewicz-written exposition in All About Eve as performed by George Sanders.

Rants:  The ending.  I won't spoil anything in case you haven't seen this one yet, but the ending almost ruined the movie for me.  The ending is bizarre and seemingly out of place with the tone and context of the rest of the film.  I was watching it with my roommate, who three-fifths of the way through jokingly shouted out a random guess at how it would end.  We laughed at her preposterous suggestion and then gasped with horror  when her guess proved to be correct.  

My take:  I was disappointed, mostly by the ending.  It's too bad, because I think very highly of Mankiewicz as a writer.  You let me down, Joe.  Side note - I was pleasantly surprised to find Marius Goring adeptly playing the role of the suave, South American businessman Bravano.  Goring is a usually fair haired actor well known to myself for playing the role of Sir Percy Blakeney in the 1956 television series "The Scarlet Pimpernel".

Recommended if:  you really, really like Joseph L. Mankiewicz and your dog chewed your copy of All About Eve and A Letter To Three Wives is on loan to a friend
Modern-Day Counterpart:  Ending aside, Save The Last Dance (2001).  Both feature a dancer who ventures into a new world with the help of a trusty confidant.    


Alix said...

I was already anxious to see this film, but your review makes me want to see it even more and see if I feel the same about the ending.

Lindsay said...

Ha. I'm glad my bad review makes you want to see it more. Don't waste your money - rent it from the library. On a positive note, Bogie does wear a trenchcoat in many scenes.