The Greek Tycoon (1978)
While this may be a hammy tale of the rich and famous as well as a poorly veiled take on the Kennedy-Onassis relationship it does have the undeniable screen presence and charisma of a bigger than life Anthony Quinn. Truthfully it comes across as an “R” rated version of a daily soap opera.
Quinn stars as a shipping tycoon living the high life with a roving eye aimed squarely at Jacqueline Bisset. Currently she’s married to James Franciscus who is a United States Senator and just one step away from the Oval office. While Quinn bides his time waiting for Bisset to fall for his passionate outlook on life he has to contend with current wife, Camilla Sparv, his brother Raf Vallone and his dare devil son Edward Albert.
Spending much of his time on the family yacht in the gorgeous Mediterranean, Quinn seems to be brokering deals on ships that may not exactly be carrying legal goods but he’s very street wise and enlists the shady Charles Durning to offset any problems he may have with the U.S. agencies.
With Bisset and Franciscus moving into the White House, Quinn is looked upon as an undesirable contact. This doesn’t hinder Bisset from going overseas and spending a few weeks with Quinn aboard his yacht. While the film doesn’t go into it, can you imagine how tongues would start waving in the media crazed world we live in today if such a thing took place?
Like the real life J.F.K. , Franciscus is assassinated leaving Bisset cold and alone. In comes Tony with all his swagger and money sweeping her off her feet and back to Greece. He’s now divorced and offers her the world.
Bisset is a bit down on herself but Quinn proudly points out to her, “Bullshit, you’re not unique.” In answer to her saying just that. One of his many romantic lines within.
It’s a love hate relationship with some physical fighting as she tries to keep up with Tony’s passion for life and his over the top performance for J. Lee Thompson’s camera. On their wedding night she throws him out of the bed to which he responds with a firm, “Bitch.” There emotional fisticuff scene to come is far to campy to ever be taken seriously and as the fight continues Tony loves her fire and continually tries to drag her to the bedroom. Hard not to laugh out loud but oh so fun.
No doubt here that Quinn looks like a million bucks and would seem a natural to play the role. After all he is eternally known as Zorba. He even spotlights his Greek dance here one more time, 16 years after his first go around on the Greek Isles. Heck, he even hits the disco dance floor.
I can’t say this is any great piece of film making but it’s fun in a trashy kind of way. Because every scene is melodramatic it seems if it’s been paired down from some mini series of six hours into a two hour format. It’s strictly spotlighting all the “happenings” in the lives of our flashy cast members. Not to be missed is the amount of wrestling scenes Tony participates in. There’s the Bisset bout on the veranda of his stately palace. A shoving match with son Albert. How about an office tussle including pulling Raf Vallone by the legs to pry him loose from underneath a desk and the best of all when Tony takes one for the team while tussling with his totally nude mistress. Yup she’s full frontal though Tony manages to keep his robe on.
While some injuries may have been sustained all the fights end in a loving embrace. Tony Quinn style.
Quinn and director J. Lee worked together previously on Greek soil. In 1961 they teamed along with a first rate cast for the rip roaring adventure of the year, The Guns of Navarone. One year after Tycoon they’d team again for a WW2 tale titled The Passage.
Worth tuning into for that hammy soap opera styled epic with what the networks weren’t prepared to show. Plenty of nudity and F-Bombs.