As spritely and exuberant as a tank, but worth a watch. Although Quinn has often played earthy, force-of-nature characters, his title role in ZORBA THE GREEK was a career performance loved by both critics and audiences--so much, in fact, that he's been doing it ever since.
The film opens with Bates, a young English writer, arriving in Greece to collect his thoughts and discover his own identity. When he goes to Crete to work at a lignite mine, an inheritance from his native-Greek father, he is joined by Quinn, a lusty Greek peasant who also wants to work at the
mine. The unusual duo move into a hotel run by Kedrova, a tattered French prostitute, former lover to four different admirals, and ex-cabaret dancer. Quinn begins wooing her and encourages Bates to show some attention to Papas, a beautiful widow much desired by the local male population. The mine
is in need of some repairs, so the irrepressible Quinn cons a group of monks into letting him remove some lumber from a forest on a nearby mountain. Quinn devises a scheme to transport the lumber to the mine but must first obtain the necessary equipment. When Quinn ventures into the city, Kedrova
helps Bates overcome his bashfulness, and the Englishman gathers up the courage to visit Papas. They make love, and rumors begin spreading about the island after Bates is seen leaving the house.
Through several upheavals, ZORBA boils down to the joyful dance that expresses Quinn's surpassingly positive philosophy--life may be painful, but it is beautiful nonetheless.
Quinn brings all his larger-than-life magic to his part--that of a character who is happy, devil-may-care, and zestfully mad. (When ZORBA THE GREEK was adapted into a spirited Broadway musical, "Zorba," for the 1968-1969 season, Quinn was chosen for the title role.) Bates, as the inhibited
Englishman, is a fine contrast, never overshadowed by the enormity of Quinn's character as he learns about the forces of life. And both Kedrova and Papas are wonderful.
Despite its loose structure and excessive length, ZORBA THE GREEK has some marvelous moments. The film itself was somewhat revolutionary in its language and irreverent sense of humor, although these elements, controversial in 1964, have since become commonplace.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: As spritely and exuberant as a tank, but worth a watch. Although Quinn has often played earthy, force-of-nature characters, his title role in ZORBA THE GREEK was a career performance loved by both critics and audiences--so much, in fact, that he's been doi… (more)