Cinema: Passion in Hellas

Phaedra proves a number of things: that Jules Dassin knows how to direct a movie; that antique Greek tragedy can be done as modern cinema brilliantly and meaningfully; that Melina Mercouri is as achingly believable as a tragedienne as she was believably zany as a comedienne (in Never on Sunday); and that Tony Perkins had better go back to making thrillers for Hitchcock.

Taking a classic myth that had been dramatized already by Euripides, Seneca and Racine, Dassin and Margerita Liberaki have fashioned a new Phaedra that is honest, beautiful and quite terrifying. Mercouri, as Phaedra, is the second wife of an...

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