THE MICHIGAN DAILY
PAGE TWO THE MICHICAN DAILY
Dassm Transforms 'Phaedra'
From Tragedy to Epic Mockery
The Inspector General' Plays
Primarily to Young at Heart
UNIVERSITY REFORMED CHURCH
1001 E HURON-across from Rockhom
"POWER FOR LIVING"
Dr. Calvin S. Malefyt
7 P.M. SERVICE ALSO
"THE NEXT STEP"-Richard Peterson,
By WALTER SHAPIRO
Let's play pretend: you're a
director and you 've decided to
film a hot classical property with
a racy almost-incest theme (the
act is there, it's the relationship
that's almost). How are you going
to do it? You can always play it
as an epic tragedy in modern
dress. Or you can take the dra-
matic idea and characters and
transform them into a' new drama
with a vibrancy all its own. The
trouble with Jules Dassin's 'Phae-
d ra' is that it tries to combine
the two. And merely succeeds in
bringing out the worst features
The opening scene is a dire
warning of how badly Dassin is
going to muff it. The movie opens
to bands playing, flags waving,
'and scores of well-dressed, happy
people looking joyously affluent.
They're going to launch a ship,
a very Greek thing to do. The
ship is called the S.S. Phaedra-
a very un-Greek thing to do.
It's not that Dassni has neglect-
ed the characters. There's Phae-
dra-Melina Mercouri with her
deep Greek voice which is. sup-
posed to be "oh so alluring," but
merely comes out "oh so indis-
tinct." And Euripides' Hippoly-
tus has become modernized into
Alexia-Tony Perkins whose in-
sipid face has never totally lost
the maniacal, glint of Alfred
The ,classical storyline is super-
abundantly there as well. Phaedra-
falls in love with her step-son.
They have an affair. The step-
son, Alexis, feels. a little remorse.
Phaedra's p a s si o n eventually
overwhelms her and she lets the
deep, dark secret out. At the end
all is tied up into a neat bundle
as Phaedra commits suicide, while
Alexis gaily' drives his shiny new
car straight into the path of an
What is lacking is perceptive
characterization. The tragic fig-
urines of Euripides have become
cardboard mock-ups. D a s s i n
seems to believe that the mere
presence of the traditional char-
acters and actions are sufficient
to provide a cohesive dramatic
structure rich with tragic content.
And he is sadly mistaken.
The best example of Dassin's
failure is provided by the cli-
mactic love scene between Phae-
dra and Alexis. The screen be-
comes alive with a shimmering
succession of images of fire, sta-
tues of Aphrodite, blurred and
entwined figures, and the fire
again-all to symbolize this tragic
linkeage. And all for naught. For
the union is premised on the
flimsiest- of motivation. Phaedra
is the bored wife of a busy in-
dustrialist. And the only real ex-
planation for Alexis lies in his
look of horror when Phaedra asks
him if he has a girl.
A final word should be said
about the few awkward tragic
elements that -Dassin leaves lit-
tered about. The best example is
the silent Greek chorus which does
its best to look tragic. Instead it
emerges as a pathetic cross be-
tween a nun and one of Mac-
Beth's witches. In the final an-
alysis Dassin's 'Phaedra' doesn't
even fare this well.
By DAVID MELLINGER
It is a pity when old Danny
Kaye movies begin to lose their
charm, but eventually this starts
to happen. After a while the
pleasure of the joyful clowning,
witty songs, and warm spirit
which pervade his movies begins
to fade. These qualities, which
still so delight children, aren't
enough to make "The Inspector
General" a really worthwhile ex-
perience for people who have
viewed delightful slapsticks for
ten or more years. a
It can succeed in producing the
warm, happy feeling which is the
object of Danny Kaye films only
for those viewers who haven't
been brought up on this kind of
Kaye's films have charm, and
Danny is still the king of happy
moile clowns, but his material is
too familiar to be great.
"The Inspector General" re-
mains a very pleasant and enjoy-
able film. Georgy (Danny Kaye)
Is the star of The Great Yakov's
medicine show. After the people
of one of the small Austrian towns
where they play unmask Yakov's
crooked racket, he and Georgy
flee to the town of Brotny, where
Georgy is mistaken by the town's
corrupt mayor and council for the
Inspector General of the Napol-
Kaye's performance as the
counterfeit Inspector General who
can neither read nor write is de-
lightful, and Walter Slezak does
a great job as the fat and avari7
cious Yakov. Though their gags
are old, they are frequently still
a pleasure to watch. The music
(this is a musical) is full of spirit,
and the photography is well done.
The warmth which pervades
his film sometimes threatens to
break down into ouright disturb-
ing sentimentality, but generally
manages to avert it 'in the nick
Thus, "The Inspector General"
remains a fine movie for viewers
who are still young and fresh in
spirit, and a pleasant one, never-
theless, for those who are not.
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VIETNAM SUMMER WILL BE thousands of people in neighborhoods all across the country stimulating discus-
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