Phaedra (1962)

JULES DASSIN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

France/Greece/USA, 1962.  Joele, Jorilie, Melinafilm.  Story by , Screenplay by Margarita Lymberaki, Jules Dassin, based on the play Hippolytus by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Jules Dassin.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1962.  Golden Globe Awards 1962.

Jules Dassin followed up his massively successful Never On Sunday by reteaming with his lady love Melina Mercouri in this update of an ancient Sophocles play.  Mercouri plays the wife to a wealthy Onassis-esque shipping tycoon () who asks her to go to London and bring home his wayward son (Anthony Perkins) in the hopes of dissuading him from his recently discovered passion for painting.  Mercouri does and, in the process, falls madly in love with the young man which, thanks to their constantly consummating a mutual feeling, means that only disaster can follow.  The melodramatic touches emphasize the ancient nature of the drama without being at odds with the ultra-modern, chic settings of early sixties Europe, with Mercouri at her most glamorous in gorgeous Dior gowns.  The setback is that there is an entire cast of mostly Greek actors speaking awkwardly-accented English, and the film doesn’t have the smooth perfection that Sunday had.  Still, it’s a great experience and Perkins was never more attractive than he is here.

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