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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
Features first song ("Never On Sunday") from a foreign-made movie to win an Oscar. See more »
Illia's happy. She's worked out a way of living. Let her alone.
No, it's impossible. A whore can't be happy. A whorish world can't be happy. I'd like to reach her mind.
What do you want to put in her mind?
Reason, in place of fantasy. Morality, instead of immorality. I've got to educate her. Transform her.
Remember what happened to Pygmalion.
I wouldn't make that mistake. She is lovely. But for me, she's not a woman; she's an idea. She's an outlaw. Yes! Can't you see? The law must be ...
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Melina Mercouri takes an often-played role - the 'Whore with a Heart of Gold who Loves Life Despite It All' - and makes it her career-defining movie role, and she is the entire reason to watch the movie. Fiercely independent, sexually progressive, not spending her life trying to find the perfect man and gorgeous, she's a force of life.
Jules Dassin has directed a great movie but he should have hired an actor to play Homer, and not played it himself. He almost ruins all the charm the movie has going for it with his ineffective acting, bad line readings and stupid motivations. A better actor might have found a way around the rough spots but Dassin magnifies them.
Mercouri probably should have won Best Actress that year, but who can beat a Liz Taylor death scare? Plus Simeone Signoret had won Best Actress the year before, and Sophia Loren would win the following year..you don't want to upset icons like Louella Parsons, Frank Sinatra and John Wayne by giving ALL the Oscars to foreigners, do you?? Maybe the fact that she does not die at the end was too much..we all know the odds of longevity for a hooker in a Hollywood movie. Taylor met that criteria, as if she needed to help her own odds after almost dying of pneumonia.
Worth watching for sure. 8/10.
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