Monday, December 19, 2011

The Barefoot Contessa

Tales of Hollywood became more popular during the 1950's, appropriately when big names had become disillusioned by the studio system. Can you blame them? They practically sell their souls to a studio for seven years (or however long their contract is).

By the late 1940's and early 1950's, Humphrey Bogart appeared in movies where his characters were more world weary than tough. In The Barefoot Contessa, he stars as a writer-director whose attitude could be matched to that of Joe Gillis. (William Holden in Sunset Boulevard to those that don't know who the hell I'm talking about.) However, under the cynical exterior, he possesses a caring heart. (Corny, I know, but it's true.)

Ava Gardner co-stars as the unknown nightclub singer turned Hollywood star. Once she becomes famous, it's clear she has no interest in what Hollywood has to offer (in a similar vein to Gardner herself). She doesn't let the bright lights of Hollywood blind her from remembering her roots.

Along with Bogart and Gardner, another actor that stood out was Edmond O'Brien. He plays a publicity agent who's not as ruthless but just as effective as Sidney Falco. (Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success to those that don't know who the hell I'm talking about.) O'Brien is good, but I don't think he deserved the Oscar. (It should have gone to Karl Malden or Lee J. Cobb.)

The Barefoot Contessa is good, though the story goes off track a bit. I particularly liked the work from Bogart, Gardner and O'Brien. If you want a movie that's anti-Hollywood but not as cynical as Sunset Boulevard, look no further.

My Rating: ****

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