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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
Never on Sunday, a story of the attempts of an American to reform a Greek prostitute and the adventures they both share in the process. Who reforms who?
I first experienced "Never on Sunday" shortly after I had visited Greece while in the US Navy. I loved the movie because of the atmosphere which it caught so well. Ilia was like so many of the Greek women and a wonderful character. The sensitive and skillful direction of Jules Dassin ranks as one of the best efforts I can remember in a film because of the humor and pathos he managed to combine and capture as well as the great love of life of the Greek people. The wonderful characterization makes the film a joy to watch. I have seen it countless times and each time it has been a delightful experience. The wonderful title song is quintessentially Greek that is a tune that I still adore and go back to, often humming for days. The plot is simple, direct and charming. The love of life that Melina Mercouri demonstrates in her performance is one to envied, admired and emulated. She was a truly gifted actress and Greek treasure. This is a must see film for anyone who loves life and all it can hold.
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