The Barefoot Contessa Trailer – Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano Brazzi, Warren Stevens. Has-been director Harry Dawes gets a new lease on his career when independently wealthy Kirk Edwards hires him to write and direct a film. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. With Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring.
The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
While Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner had good chemistry on screen, off screen Bogart wasn’t particularly impressed with her as an actress. He commented that Gardner gave him nothing to work with when they were performing together. Some believe Bogart’s unfavorable feelings towards Gardner was due to the divorce between Gardner and his close friend Frank Sinatra.
The character of Maria Vargas is said to be based on Rita Hayworth, who was actually offered the part. Hayworth was a Latina who later married a prince, Prince Aly Khan. However, some elements were taken from Ava Gardner‘s life as well. The stormy relationship between Maria and tycoon movie producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) is based on Gardner’s own relationship with billionaire film producer Howard Hughes.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz wanted James Mason, whom he had just directed in Julius Caesar (1953), for the part of the nobleman. MGM executive Nicholas Schenck, who had had a vehement disagreement with the director, would not release Mason for the film. According to Mankiewicz, he ended up with Rossano Brazzi, “who cannot act, cannot be sensual . . . could hardly speak English . . . ” Ironically, Rosemary Matthews, who was hired to help Brazzi with his English, and Mankiewicz later married.
Ava Gardner was under contract at MGM, where Joseph L. Mankiewicz had just made Julius Caesar (1953) and burned a few bridges. When he approached them about borrowing Gardner, they stuck him for $200,000 – twice what he was paying Humphrey Bogart – plus ten percent of the gross. Gardner ended up costing Mankiewicz $1 million, while MGM only had to pay her contracted weekly salary, which came to $60,000.
This was Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s first production as a writer, director and producer, although he had previously produced and directed or produced and written several films. It was also the first for his own production company, Figaro, Inc., which had financial backing from United Artists, and his first film in color.
Ava Gardner had never danced on screen before, she rehearsed the number for three weeks. When the playback machine broke during filming, she didn’t miss a step, dancing as the extras clapped out the beat.
Ava Gardner said in her biography that Humphrey Bogart was not easy to work with, because he argued about anything.
The name “Lloyd Richards” appears on the marquee of Maria’s first film. “Lloyd Richards” is the name of Margo Channing’s playwright friend in All About Eve (1950), also by written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz,
The studio was about to release the film’s poster with no image of Humphrey Bogart, a contractual violation. Bogart had the matter rectified with the addition of a large line drawing of his face.
Composer Jay Livingston saw this movie and saw the motto ‘Che Sera Sera’ carved on the ancestral mansion and considered it a good title for a song. He and lyricist Ray Evans decided to convert the title to Spanish ‘Que Sera Sera’ (Whatever Will Be Will Be)’. The song was introduced into the Hitchcock movie ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ sung by Doris Day and won Livingston and Evans their third ‘Academy Award for Best Original Song’. It charted in Jul 1956 and reached Number 2 in the Billboard chart and Number 1 in the UK chart. The saying goes back to the 16th century.
Changes were made to the soundtrack just days before the film’s New York opening. These were required after Howard Hughes had learned that the character Kirk Edwards bore striking similarites to him and threatened to sue.
Edmond O’Brien was always Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s first choice for Oscar Muldoon, having loved working with him on Julius Caesar (1953) and enjoyed his clowning between scenes. This was the basis for the character.
Edmond O’Brien won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this film despite the fact he gave the only nominated performance in the category that was not in a Best Picture nominee.
Linda Darnell had hoped to have the role of Maria Vargas, a role that seems as inspired by her life as that of Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, but Mankiewicz never envisaged it.