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The Greek Tycoon is a 1978 American drama film, of the roman à clef type, directed by J. Lee Thompson. The screenplay by Morton S. Fine is based on a story by Fine, Nico Mastorakis, and Win Wells, who loosely based it on Aristotle Onassis and his relationship with Jacqueline Kennedy. Mastorakis denied this, instead stating "We're not doing a film about Aristotle Onassis. It's a personification of all Greek Tycoons."[1] The film stars Anthony Quinn in the title role and Jacqueline Bisset as the character based on Kennedy. Quinn also appeared in Thompson's picture The Passage, released the following year.


The film focuses on the courtship and marriage of aging Greek Theo Tomasis, who rose from his humble peasant roots to become an influential mogul who owns oil tankers, airlines, and Mediterranean islands and longs to be elected President of Greece, and considerably younger Liz Cassidy, the beautiful widow of the assassinated President of the United States. The two first meet when she is visiting his island estate with her husband James, the charismatic Senator from the state of Massachusetts. Theo immediately is attracted to her and, despite the fact she obviously is happily married, begins to woo her aboard his yacht while her husband is deep in conversation with the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. As the plot unfolds, Theo's beloved son Nico dies in an accident, his wife Simi commits suicide, James becomes President and appoints his brother John Attorney General, and Theo ends his affair with Paola to comfort and eventually marry grieving widow Liz.



The film was shot on location in New York City, Athens, Mykonos, Corfu, Washington, D.C., and London.

The film's theme song, "(Life is) Just a Dance with Time," was written by John Kongos and recorded by Petula Clark in both English and French (as "Le Grec").

Critical reception

The film opened to negative reviews, for the jet set films of the time were losing audience attention and box office receipts. Audiences had stopped caring about the stories of rich and famous people such as had interested them in the 1960s, in the time of movies like The Carpetbaggers and Where Love Has Gone. In the end, the blockbuster films and special-effects films of the late 1970s attracted more viewers than the films about the decadent rich.

Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "as witless as it is gutless" and said it "recalls a sort of newspaper journalism you don't see much anymore — the Sunday supplement recapitulation of a famous murder, divorce or other scandal, put together, from morgue clips, and filled out by the writer with breathless speculation about what really might have happened and what really might have been said, always with more exclamation points than are absolutely necessary. It's the literature of vultures who have no interest in tearing into something of the first freshness."[2]

Variety said, "It's a trashy, opulent, vulgar, racy $6.5 million picture. You've watched the headlines, now you can read the movie."[3]

TV Guide rated the film one star and commented, "If you can't guess who the characters are in this, you must have been living on Mars for the last few decades . . . If scenery, greenery, and lavish living are what you like to see, you may enjoy The Greek Tycoon. If honesty, drama, and real feelings are more to your taste, read a book."[4]

Time Out London called the film a "glossy travesty" and added, "Upmarket exploitation pics tend to make it (ie. profit) on the merest smell of money, sex and scandal, and this effort just reeks."[5]


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External links

Template:J. Lee Thompson

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