FILM 1370: THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA
TRIVIA: 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 the tycoon movie producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens) is based on Gardner's own relationship with billionaire film producer Howard Hughes.
Mankiewicz wanted James Mason, whom he had just directed in "Julius Caesar," 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.