Finally on DVD and Blu Ray
All of us have our favorite movies and “Phaedra” has always been one of mine. However, it has never been available on VHS or DVD and to see it, I would have to comb the papers to see when it was being shown on television. That is over now with Olive Films release of the modern version of a Greek tragedy. Now set in modern Greece, wealthy Greek shipping magnate Thanos Kyrilis (Raf Vallone), his second wife Phaedra (Melina Mercouri) and Alexis (son of Thanos from a previous marriage) become involved in a very strange love triangle. After christening a new boat with the name of his wife, Phaedra is urged to go to London to convince Alexis to come home to Greece or the summer. There is an instant attraction between the two and they become involved in a very steamy love affair and they return to Greece together yet Alexis is suffering from severe guilt pangs. Thanos realizes nothing and is excessively happy to see his son again and arranges for him to come into the family business and to marry Ercy, his rival’s daughter and bring the two companies together.
Jules Dassin, the husband of Mercouri and blacklisted American filmmaker, directed and wrote the screenplay with Margarita Liberaki. Knowing that it is based on a Green tragedy, we know that it will not end well. Phaedra cannot let go of Alexis and she tells her husband about the affair and the rest is left for you to see yourself.
I remember my reaction when I saw this film and I was mesmerized by Anthony Perkins as Alexis. He played the part with angst and came across as a melancholy young man in love with his stepmother. When he and Mercouri share the screen it is magic and their love scene (see video below) was something to see especially remembering that the film was first screened in 1962. Melina Mercouri exudes sex and she is alluring and wonderfully exotic.
The music score is fantastic and fits the screenplay perfectly. Thinking back on the actors, both Perkins and Mercouri are no longer with us but they gave amazing performances here. When the movie came out, the critics did not care for it possibly because they thought it resembled the lives of Onassis and Callas. The remastering and transfer are wonderful and the picture is crystal clear. The music seems to be more sumptuous than ever.