Friday, April 10, 2009

The living room & the barefoot contessa (w/spoilers)

I'm going to post here from now on--however long that lasts. This is the blog where I feel comfortable and in my own voice more often than not. DoC is my living room.

Slippers on,
because I am
suburban even in the city.

Today I reread Suzanne's wonderful prose. Great wit. I love it. And I should be writing to her right now, or following up on some research about my mom's benefits, or talking with my mom on the phone, or reading more of Michelle's work, which is a pleasure, or I should be writing a new post for Shock Room before its loyal readers give up...

There are so many things I ought to be doing. Learning Spanish. Exercising.

So what am I doing watching The Barefoot Contessa on TCM?

It is love. Love makes me forget myself, you see. And how can anyone look at Ava Gardner in all her splendor in 1954, and not fall in love?

In fact 1954 itself is a glorious moment on screen. The cars are American and swanky as hell. The men and women smoke like grownups and wear fur pelts for glamour. Gardner has a dreadful, half-invested accent, but it only enhances one's awareness of her profound beauty.

Rossano Brazzi delights me with his contempt for the English language. How famous was he, with South Pacific, and that Katherine Hepburn movie about the woman on holiday in Venice, and wasn't he the sexy European dude in that girls-like-to-travel-too film Three Coins in a Fountain? So Hollywood producers must have put a lot of pressure on him. Yet his English never improved--because it didn't have to. He was that handsome.

The film is preposterous and awful, with maudlin, instructive and too wise narration. But the Technicolor is astonishing, thick and saturated. Watching the palette shift from one static, talkity-talk scene to the next, I feel medicated by the cobalt and dove gray, the emerald and scarlet, the charcoal suits of the men setting off the satin drapery of Gardner's gowns.

It's a crazy-assed Hollywood story about a woman who is discovered and who becomes an internationally recognized movie star, but who retains her true nature--which is miraculously pure and real...

See, she marries well and she ends up being a contessa. But she likes to be barefoot. She's so real.

Humphrey Bogart looks like he's counting the money in his wallet between scenes.

"I hate shoes." -- The Barefoot Contessa

Oh dear. Brazzi has a monologue. It's faux philosophy. Violin music is playing. Brazzi says read this medical document, and since it's in Italian he tells the Contessa that it says, basically, he was injured in the war. Injured a lot. In fact, this honeymoon thing isn't going to work.


But guess what? The Contessa is telling Bogart she got pregnant by somebody who works for her, and she's keeping the baby. Wow, this contessa is a complicated gal.

This movie must be four hours long.

Bang! Bang!

Not telling.

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