After their smashing comedy success with NEVER ON SUNDAY, Dassin and Mercouri teamed again for this loose adaptation of Hippolytus by Euripides, updating the story. Mercouri is married to Vallone, a powerful Greek shipping tycoon in the class of Onassis and Niarchos. She is his second
wife, and he dispatches her to London to convince his son by his first marriage, Perkins, to come home to Greece for the summer holiday. Vallone wants to teach his son the shipping business. The moment they meet, Perkins and Mercouri are attracted to one another and are soon enmeshed in a steamy
love affair that takes them to Paris. Mercouri brings Perkins back to the small island of Hydra where they live. Perkins is tortured by guilt over having slept with his stepmother but happy to see his father, who has big plans for the boy. He wants Perkins to marry the daughter of another shipping
magnate; forget about love--this is a merger to help seal the tycoons' impending partnership. Mercouri is outraged by the arrangement and angrily admits that she has been having an affair with Perkins. Vallone's response is to beat up the sensitive Perkins and scream at Mercouri. Battered, Perkins
prepares to leave while Mercouri begs him to let her come along. Perkins won't agree to that as his plan is to commit suicide, which he does by driving his car off a cliff. Mercouri, having nothing left to live for, takes a handful of sleeping pills and does herself in, thus leaving Vallone with
the simultaneous loss of his son and spouse.
Not a good subject for a musical comedy, right? PHAEDRA suffers from too much allegory and a heavy hand from Dassin, who also plays an old Greek. There is an extraneous Greek chorus of women who comment on matters in several tongues. The picture looks good, having been shot in Greece, England, and
France, and it's wisely been left in black and white as any sort of color might have ruined the atmosphere. The costume design received an Oscar nomination.
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