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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Barefoot Contessa (1954)



Reviews and Comments

Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz attempts to duplicate his success with All About Eve with another study of stardom. But The Barefoot Contessa, which deals with the movie business rather than the stage, doesn't quite work. It's difficult to nail down why, but the tragedy in the tragic life story of Maria Vargas just doesn't hit home. The performances are (with a couple of exceptions) good but overrated, and the film doesn't delve deeply enough into the passions of the characters to draw the audience in. Instead, it is too content to rely on extended metaphors to get its point across; by the end, we understand Maria's love of being barefoot better than we understand her. It's too bad. The raw materials for a powerhouse of a drama are all here, and how far wrong can you go with Humphrey Bogart in the lead? Mankiewicz's slick dialogue and daringly mellow pacing are to be praised, but they don't quite pull the film together.