The Barefoot Contessa

Synopsis: At Maria Vargas' funeral, several people recall who she was and the impact she had on them. Harry Dawes was a not very successful writer/director when he and movie producer Kirk Edwards scouted her at a shabby nightclub where she worked as a flamenco dancer. He convinces her to take a chance on acting and her first film is a huge hit. PR man Oscar Muldoon remembers when Maria was in court supporting her father who was accused of murdering her mother. It was Maria's testimony that got him off and she was a bigger star than ever. Alberto Bravano, one of the richest men in South America, sets his sights on Maria and she goes off with him - as much to make Edwards angry as anything - but he treats her badly. When she meets Count Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini they fall deeply in love. They are married but theirs is not to be a happy life.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Production: United Artists
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
128 min

I suppose when you spend most

of your life in one profession

you develop what could be called

an occupational point of view

So maybe I can be forgiven

for the first thing I

thought of that morning

Because I found myself thinking that

the staging and the setting

even the lighting of Maria's funeral

were just what she would have wanted

My name is Harry Dawes

I've been a writer

and director of movies

for longer than I like to remember

I go way back:

to when the movies

had two dimensions,

and one dimension

and sometimes no dimension at all

I wrote and directed all three

of the movies Maria D'Amata was in

Her short, full career,

from start to finish

I wrote it and directed it

On the screen, that is

What was I doing there?

The Fates or the Furies

or whoever wrote and

directed her short, full life

they took care of that

Anyway, there I stood

halfway around the world

from Hollywood and Vine

in a little graveyard

near Rapallo, Italy

watching them bury the

Contessa Torlato-Favrini

in ground she'd never

heard of six months ago

with a stone statue to mark the spot

Life, every now and then, behaves

as if it had seen

too many bad movies

When everything fits too well:

The beginning, the

middle and the end

from fade-in to fade-out

And where I faded in,

the contessa was not a contessa

She was not even a movie

star named Maria D'Amata

Where I faded in,

her name was Maria Vargas

and she danced in a

nightclub in Madrid, Spain



And so, once upon a time, three

years ago, we came to Madrid

to a not very fashionable

nightclub, to see Maria Vargas dance

Let me tell you who "we" were

The man with the sweaty

face and frightened eyes

was and is Oscar Muldoon

He's a public relations

man, which can be many things

unrelated and not public at all

The blonde was made

in Hollywood, USA

Her name was Myrna,

and she travelled

I was a writer and/or director,

who hadn't been doing too well

We were all in the

employ of Kirk Edwards

Meet Kirk Edwards

You're saying to yourself

"So, that's what he looks like"

"A Wall Street wizard who came

up from the streets of New York"

"Who came up from the bottom,

but never really left it"

Don't feel sorry for Kirk Edwards

Not unless you're a

hungry psychiatrist

Kirk was producing a

motion picture, his first

He had as much in common

with anything creative

as I have with nuclear physics

Well, we'd been scouting for

what is called,

delicately, a new face

By most standards, flying all the

way to Madrid to look for a new face

would seem like going

to a lot of trouble

But I've known producers

who'd travel further

for a good smoked whitefish

Hey, um... Hey, Mac!

"S, seor"

How come the band is takin' a break?

- Uh, please. Don't...

- Signorina

Seorita. You're

in Spain now, buster

Seorita whatsis... Maria Vargas.

She does not dance no more?

No more, seor

You mean she dance only

one time, then "finito"?

"S, no ms. " One

time, then "finito"

Well, maybe she could dance one

more time, just for tonight, eh?

She never dance more.

One time and no more.

Well, why you not make her

dance more? You the boss, eh?

Is Maria Vargas. Nobody

boss. Maria Vargas

Funny, I always thought a woman

was a two-time thing. Sing it, Oscar

Oscar, have her come to the table

I'm very sorry, seor,

but Seorita Vargas

does not sit at the

tables with the guests

Now, I'm sure you don't consider

Mr Kirk Edwards just

an ordinary guest

Well, I have said, it is not

possible with Seorita Vargas

Well, maybe just this once,

for Mr Kirk Edwards

you can make an

exception to your rule

But it's not my rule.

It's rule of Seorita Vargas

I'm sorry. Excuse me, ladies

and gentlemen. Excuse me.

Oscar, go get her

We'll be right back

You haven't had much

to say this trip, Harry

I'd counted on you for laughs

some of your well-known

bright remarks

Maybe going on the

wagon makes a man dull

Could be

Oscar hasn't touched his whisky

- No, thanks

- How long has it been?

- Five months, next Tuesday

- Let that be a lesson to you, Myrna

It's never too late

to develop character

I've got time

The fact that you

don't drink at all, Kirk

is the greatest argument

for drunkenness I know

Wanna know why I went on the

wagon when I went to work for you?

Because I didn't want you around

when my brain was befuddled

First thing I know,

you might buy my soul

You can't buy people's

souls. They belong to God.

- What's champagne in Spanish?

- Wait till Oscar gets back

Not always, Kirk. Sometimes

it's quite a tussle

- Remember Faust?

- I don't believe I do

Faust was something like you, Kirk

Except, instead of all

the money in the world

he had all the knowledge

But the one thing he never knew

like you, was a moment

of real happiness

So he made a deal with the Devil.

He'd trade his soul to the Devil

in return for that one

moment of real happiness.

How'd it turn out?

Well, God fought the

Devil for Faust's soul

It was a close fight

Most people think God won

I personally always

thought it wound up a draw

I think it's a silly story

No man with all that

money and knowledge

could never have been happy

Sure it's a silly story

Can you ever imagine Kirk

being in a spot like that?

Worst come to worst,

he'd just "buy" God

A woman who drinks is bad enough

But I will not stand for a

woman cursing and blaspheming God

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Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Joseph Leo Mankiewicz (February 11, 1909 – February 5, 1993) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and he twice won the Academy Award for both Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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