Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Anthony Quinn Just Great in "Zorba the Greek"

Cleveland Press April 8, 1965

"Zorba the Greek" is a motion picture that is right in every way -- inspired acting, perfect direction, artful photography.

Anthony Quinn does more than portray a character named Zorba. He is Zorba -- a man larger than life, primitive yet wise, both savage and tender, philosophic yet basic.

Everywhere there is evident the strong, skillful hand of Michael Cacoyannis. This is the man who produced and directed the film, who wrote the screen play from the sprawling masterpiece of a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Cacoyannis has done what must be done to fashion a cinematic work from a literary one, but in making changes he has retained the spirit and power of the original. Especially is this true in retaining the Rabelaisian character of Zorba.

ZORBA IS A LUSTY, dirty, bearded old Greek who introduces himself to an English author (Alan Bates) who is on his way to Crete to re-open a mine he has inherited.

Bates needs a miner. Zorba is a miner. He also admits that he can be trouble -- "everywhere I go people say I louse things up."

In Crete they find rooms at the rundown hotel run by an ancient French coquette (Lila Kedrova).

ALONG THE WAY they befriend a widow (Irene Papas) who is being harassed by the townsmen. The widow is attracted to the Englishman while Zorba pays court to the Frenchwoman.

The film is filled with vivid, exciting scenes that etch themselves on your memory -- moments of brutality, of humor and of pathos.

Cacoyannis has filled the screen with the people of Crete, and he is unmerciful in his treatment of them.

THERE IS THE MURDER of the widow after one of the villagers commits suicide when she rejects him, the people circling her, stoning her.

There are the old hags of the village, all in black, crouching vulture-like, waiting for ;the Frenchwoman to die so they can strip her home of all her possessions.

There is Zorba dancing when he is full of joy or unhappiness because if he doesn't he will burst. Or Zorba's courting of the ancient Frenchwoman.

The movie is a sprawling affair, exciting, filled with life. It is a reminder of the masterful things that can be done with ordinary black-and-white photography.

MEMORABLE ARE such scenes as Irene Papas in widow's black, a beautiful woman but with an almost manly stride walking along sun-baked road, close-ups of wrinkled, toothless cruel old women; Zorba's feet shuffling in the sand as his dancing begins, first slowly an methodically and then wilder and more abandoned.

Though "Zorba the Greek' is a motion picture filled with violent passions it is principally a story of the joy of living. It is adult drama at its best.

QUINN IS BRILLIANT in his portrayal of Zorba, a man filled with this joy, energetic and perhaps a little mad.

Bates as the young, timid author is often only a foil for Quinn. Lila Kedrova gives a moving performance as a ridiculous but pathetic woman. Irene Papas is stately and dominating as the proud widow.

Mikis Theodorakis has composed a finger-clicking, foot-tapping score for the background music.