Beautiful and corrupt, sociable and sensitive, Ilya, an independent, happy-go-lucky streetwalker in the bustling Port of Piraeus, is the talk of the town. Intrigued by her character, the love-smitten American intellectual and amateur philosopher, Homer Thrace, sets his sights on becoming Ilya's Pygmalion, and in the process, attempt to explain the decline of the great Ancient Greek civilisation. Of course--as Ilya belongs to no one, and the handsome Greek-Italian dockhand, Tonio, is bent on winning her heart--this is a challenging task, especially when proud Ilya swears that she leads a full and exciting life. Now, the romantic philhellene has two short weeks to accomplish his task. Will he learn a thing or two about life, and maybe, just maybe, find the secret of happiness?Written by
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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