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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
It is easy to see why I am fascinated with Greece. It is not because of it's role in this film. Melina Mercouri plays a self-made woman of the world's oldest profession in one of the world's greatest civilizations. She is beautiful, intelligent, and independent from men. In fact, she entices men to her rather than play subservient and inferior. Melina Mercouri was perhaps Greek's best known actress. While American born and bred, Jules Dassin's character, Homer, tries to capture his vacation in Greece. He tries to change her like Professor Higgins in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. He cannot change what is special and unique about her. Ilia is a force to be reckon with and returns to her glory as the best person around, herself. She is a strong woman who makes no excuses for her lifestyle. The men adore and worship her like a Greek Goddess. Perhaps, that's what she is--a Greek Goddess! It makes you want to go to Greece ever more. It is no wonder that in real life, Jules Dassin and Melina Mercouri fell in love.
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