Classic Film Guide

Never on Sunday (1960) - full review!

aka Pote tin Kyriaki (1960)

Written, directed and produced by Jules Dassin (who received his only recognition from the Academy with Oscar nominations for his direction and writing), this partially foreign language comedy drama which also earned Melina Mercouri her only Oscar nomination (Best Actress) won an Academy Award for its (now very famous, and recognizable) title song, Manos Hadjidakis’s only Academy recognition; Theoni Aldredge earned her first Oscar nomination for B&W Costume Design.

It's a Pygmalion-like story that features Dassin as an American named Homer that ventures to the port city of Piraeus, Greece seeking answers; once there he meets, and falls in love with a popular independent prostitute named Ilya (Mercouri). Homer is confused about what's happening in the world & life and believes that traveling to the land of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle will help him. He's perplexed when he meets Ilya, a truly "happy hooker" who substitutes her own plots for the Greek tragedies she watches at the theater on Sundays, her days off from the oldest profession. Homer is upset that Ilya thinks Medea was a good mother, and has other misconceptions about Oedipus Rex, so he asks for two weeks of her time to educate her about the truth. Of course, she becomes more modest and less happy, as do all of her local male groupies including her beau Tonio (George Foundas), the big dancing singing gregarious Jorgo (Titos Vandis, a Greek actor many will recognize) who fights before he befriends Homer, and the English speaking boat captain (Mitsos Ligizos) who occasionally translates for Homer. Despo Diamantidou plays another prostitute who, by exposing Homer, helps Ilya return to happiness as she battles the businessman Noface (Alexis Solomos) on behalf of her peers.

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