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Illia is Piraeus's most popular person: an energetic prostitute, full of life and good humor. Every day, she swims at the pier, entertaining the dock hands. Sundays she has an open house with food, drink and song. Homer Thrace, an amateur philosopher from Middletown, Conn., arrives in town to find out why Greece has fallen from ancient greatness. He decides Illia is a symbol of that fall, so he sets out to study and to save her. Unknown to Illia, he gets the money for the books and all else he gives her from Mr. No Face, the local vice boss who wants Illia retired because her independence gives other whores ideas. Whose spirit is stronger: Homer's classical ideal or Illia's? Written by
I haven't seen "Never on Sunday" in ages but I remember it as a really wonderful comedy. This was the very first time I saw Melina Mercuri -- and it's she and the Greek musical sound track that made it so pleasurable. The story doesn't matter really: It's enough to know that Mercuri plays a prostitute with a gift for joy and denial of harsh realities. If I remember correctly, she has a way of rewriting Greek tragedies in her head so that, at the end, "everyone goes to the seashore." I imagine that the film isn't as vivid as it was in its day because while the scenery was beautiful the photography was not special. You might not like Jules Dassin as Mercuri's foil -- he acted in as well as wrote and directed the film -- but see it for Mercuri. She played roles of greater significance in films that were perhaps more artful. But she is luminous and funny and sweet and gorgeous in this picture.
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