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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
Melina Mercouri, "The Last Greek Goddess", stars in the comedy "Never on Sunday"(1960) directed/written by Jules Dassin. She plays Illia, the most sensuous and radiant "lady of the night" in the seaport Pyres where every man adores her and she is the one who chooses her partners. Mercouri was 40 years old when she played Illia but she did not hide a single day of her age and she was gorgeous, full of the inner fire and absolutely irresistible. When the new Pygmalion, the intellectual American named Homer (of course) sails into the town and meets Illia, he decides that his search for meaning of life would end in Pyres if he would reform Illia and make her change her way of life. With all his intellect and education he couldn't understand a very simple truth about Illia - only true love might change her. Homer played by director/writer Jules Dassin is the weakest part of this mostly charming comedy. I agree with one of the IMDb commenters who said that "Jules Dassin has directed a great movie but he should have hired an actor to play Homer, and not played it himself... A better actor might have found a way around the rough spots but Dassin magnifies them." I guess that in real life Dassin was much more charming that in the film because he and Mercouri were married in 1966 and stayed married until her death in 1994.
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