The Naked Maja (1958) Poster

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Historic melodrama about relationship between Francisco De Goya and Duchess of Alba
ma-cortes20 October 2011
This is a melodrama involving 18-19th century famed Spanish painter named Goya (Anthony Franciosa) and famous model (Ava Gardner) for the title painting . It's a slow vision of Saragossan painter Francisco Goya Lucientes' waning days in Madrid , as he wanders through Madrid streets and watches the citizen uprising against Napoleon troops . It portrays his relationship with historic personages as Carlos IV (Gino Cervi) , his wife Maria Luisa (Lea Padovani) and the scheming favorite Godoy (Amadeo Nazzari). As Goya observes events, dances , parties , inquisition trials that inspired his work . As the highlights of the movie result to be when are brought to life scenes of known paintings as ¨portrayal of Carlos IV family¨, ¨The charge of Mamelucos¨, ¨The trails of Inquisition¨, ¨Los Caprichos¨ and many others .

This is a costumer partially based on facts but predominates the slow-moving melodrama. The picture relies heavily on lovely relationship between Goya and Duchess of Alba . Glamorously and sumptuously photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno , Federico Fellini's usual . Lavishly produced by Goffredo Lombardo -Titanus production- that the next years financed another vehicle for Ava Grdner as ¨Angel wore red¨ directed by Nunnally Johnson . Emotive and romantic musical score by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino . The motion picture is middling directed by Henry Koster and filmed with a pervasive melancholy that does for slow drama . Koster , a veteran Hollywood filmmaker expert on historical genre as ¨The robe , Desiree , The Virgin Queen and D-Day the sixth of June¨ and comedy genre as ¨Inspector General , Mr. Hobbs takes a vacation , Bishop's wife and Rage of Paris¨.

The flick weaves an intrigue between Duchess of Alba , Godoy and Goya who painted the famous Majas ; the actual deeds are the following : Two of Goya (Anthony Franciosa)'s best known paintings are The Nude Maja (La Maja Desnuda) and The Clothed Maja (La Maja Vestida). They depict the same woman in the same pose, naked and clothed, respectively. Without a pretense to allegorical or mythological meaning, the painting was "the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art" . The identity of the Majas are uncertain. The most popularly cited models are the Duchess of Alba (Ava Gardner), with whom Goya was sometimes thought to have had an affair, and Pepita Tudó, mistress of Manuel Godoy; Godoy (Amadeo Nazzari)subsequently owned them. Neither theory has been verified, and it remains as likely that the paintings represent an idealized composite. The paintings were never publicly exhibited during Goya's lifetime. They were owned by Manuel Godoy, the Prime Minister of Spain during Carlos IV (Gino Cervi) kingdom and a favorite of the Queen, María Luisa (Lea Padovani). In 1808 all Godoy's property was seized by Ferdinand VII after his fall from power and exile, and in 1813 the Inquisition confiscated both works as 'obscene', returning them in 1836 to the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando.

Other films dealing with Goya's life are : ¨Goya¨ by Nino Quevedo with Francisco Rabal ; ¨Los Desastres De Guerra¨ TV series by Jose Ramon Larraz with Enric Majo as Goya and the best is ¨Goya in Bordeaux (1999) by Carlos Saura with Francisco Rabal and Maribel Verdu as Duchess of Alba that is a highly theatricalized vision of exiled painter.
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Ava's beauty not enough to save dull historical romance...
Doylenf18 November 2010
If THE NAKED MAJA had a better script more faithful to the true life story of Spanish artist Francisco Goya and his affair with the Duchess of Alba, this may have been worth all the expense that went into producing it. There are fine production values including the gorgeous costumes worn by Miss Gardner, the opulent settings, the detailed color photography and the pretty background score full of pseudo-Spanish themes.

As a romantic drama, it only exposes the clash of two different acting styles--the overly intense histrionics employed by ANTHONY FRANCIOSA in the method tradition and the more natural technique of screen acting from AVA GARDNER as the woman he falls helplessly in love with at first sight. Her aloof demeanor only makes her more irresistible and there is one brilliant dance scene where the fiery Spanish flamenco music makes their emotions come to life vividly at least for the length of this sequence. Otherwise, their pairing as lovers never seems as intense as the script would suggest.

Despite an overuse of eye make-up, Gardner at this point in her career was still very attractive in what is basically a one-dimensional role as an aloof woman with a past who cannot bring herself to declare love for the artist until it is too late.

Henry Koster's direction is a tad too slow in pace but the main fault is the script which never permits the two leads to be anything more than one-dimensional in concept.
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One touch of Venus.
dbdumonteil21 October 2010
In her very pleasant memoirs ,Ava Gardner recalls Anthony Franciosa's very "actor's studio method " acting ,which she did not take seriously :his performance when he is delirious and when he proudly tells the Holy Office that the beauty of a woman was given to man by God is revealing;Gardner tells us how much time he spent wondering how he would play "THAT " scene ,how he would deliver "THIS" line.

Koster's direction is mediocre at best ,static and academic ,not even using Goya's art -what Vincente Minnelli did with Van Gogh in "lust for life" -;anyway as an user has already pointed out the Maja does not resemble Gardner and for a good reason: the picture was made for Manuel ,the villain of the movie ,and it represents his hot lover Pepita!The screenplay is confused ,it's a stodgy mixture of art,religion,intrigues ,irresolute king,wicked minister and Napoleon's army around the corner.

For all that,Mrs Gardner's extraordinary beauty survives and even if the movie does not satisfy,the simple fact of watching her will make your day.She would prove ,in her following movie ("on the beach") and even more in "the night of the iguana" that she could act ,and superbly act when she was given decent scripts to work with.
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Historic elements in film
Sheila_Beers9 November 2005
"The Naked Maja" is one of my favorite movies because of the historical content, and it stars two of my favorite actors, Anthony Franciosa as the idealistic artist Francisco Goya and Ava Gardner as the ill-fated Duchess of Alba.

The story begins before 1800 when the works of philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau are changing the social thought of Europe. According to Rousseau's philosophy, all people have dignity and worth and should have freedom of thought. The philosophy also has introduced belief in personal fulfillment, freedom of expression, and self determination, which ultimately led to the French and American Revolutions in the late 18th century and revolutions throughout Europe by 1850.

Because the Duchess of Alba embraces Rousseau's philosophy, she is condemned by the "old school" of monarchist Spain that clings to old ideas of a rigid social class and dictatorial views.

Upon seeing the film, the viewer might be inspired to look at prints of Goya's works and see how he expressed ideas of equality and compassion for humanity in his art. By doing so, one will understand the film in a greater context.
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One of Ava's Worst Efforts!
wdbivens30 April 2004
I'm an avid Ava Gardner fan, but this film ranks near the bottom of her career efforts, with 'The Bible', 'The Blue Bird', etc. 'The Naked Maja' is beautiful enough to look at, but is poorly directed, narrated, and edited. The story of the Duchess of Alba, could have been the basis for a much more interesting film, but this film is a lesson in missed cinematic opportunities. Ava, more commonly called 'the most beautiful animal in the world', possessed a raw, exciting sexuality, that provided the few sparks, in an otherwise lifeless film. I definitely did not consider her the most beautiful women in films, but certainly one of the most sensuous. This was not a major film, and Anthony Franciosa was not a major star; even though I loved his work in 'A Hatful Of Rain'. I wanted to love this film, when it was released, and I was hopelessly smitten with Miss Gardner. Ultimately, I had to admit that it was not as good as some of her other disappointing films, like 'The Sun Also Rises', 'The Little Hut', 'Bhowani Junction', just to name a few. 'Mogambo', 'The Barefoot Contessa', 'Showboat', and 'The Night of the Iguana', were my personal favorite Ava Gardner films. Ava Gardner would rank right behind Hedy Lamarr and Elizabeth Taylor, as the most beautiful women in the world. Costumes for Ava, in 'The Naked Maja', were quite good.
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Romantic trash
jojo-acapulco13 January 2009
"The Naked Maja" has beautiful sets and costumes, but only a passing acquaintance with reality. About the best that can be said is that it features some impressive views of Miss Gardner's lovely bosom.

Diego Velázques (1599-1660) painted one of the earliest known Spanish nudes, the Rokeby Venus, featured as the "loot" in the film "The Happy Thieves."

About two centuries after Velázques, Francisco Goya 1746-1828) painted a short, plump nude maja (street girl) reclining on a bed. When this picture was criticized as obscene, he painted the same girl again, in the same position but dressed, which makes her more, rather than less suggestive. The chunky girl in the "maja" paintings does not resemble Goya's portraits of the Duchess of Alba in any way.

When I was last in the Prado the two majas were hanging on either side of the door to the room housing the portrait of King Carlos IV and family – and the queen was definitely not the lovely young woman who played the part in "The Naked Maja."

Goya also painted two portraits of his very close friend, the tall, angular Duchess of Alba, in one she is dressed in white and in the other, in black. The 'black portrait' shows the duchess pointing imperiously at the ground where the words "solo Goya" ("only Goya") can be seen written in the sand at her feet.

Milos Forman's "Goya's Ghosts" (2006) is a far better film and much closer to historical fact. Goya's passing affair with the Duchess of Alba, who was certainly not the girl in the Maja paintings, does not figure in the latter film.
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Gorgeous scenery...and gorgeous Ava!
moonbus6928 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I just happened onto this film, playing on a local broadcast digital TV channel (The Works), and am glad that I did. I had never seen this film before or heard of it, but have always loved the art of Goya. This movie made me want to go look up his complete life story, and of the Duchess (the part played by Ava Gardner). Just saw a scene where Goya (Anthony Franciosa) is painting in a field, and Maria (Ava) is with him, and some soldiers on horseback are riding by. The captain comes to greet Maria, and when they leave Goya voices his displeasure about 'war-making', etc. This scene reminded me of the one in 'Immortal Beloved' (movie about Beethoven with Gary Oldman) where Napoleon's army is attacking nearby... and how, through history, some of the greatest works of music, art, etc., are created during times of great unrest and horrific wars. Maybe this is the 'balance' that helps maintain the human world, and all our collective sanity? Anyways, the scenes, costumes, music, and especially Ava, are all so very, very beautiful!
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quetzalcoatl_sol3 May 2003
A well narrated film in sensational technicolor, where Ava Gardner shows her charm as actress. Her famous legend in Spain is very adecuate for this film. An magnificent world with wine, bulls, spanish music and the fabulous pictures by Diego Velazquez, a great spanish painter whose picture named "the naked maja" builds a magic legend in Spain. Curious and excellent film. And an inmortal woman: Ava Gardner...
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