The film was the fourth collaboration between Dassin and Mercouri, who took the title role. Greek writer Margarita Lymberaki adapted Euripides' Hippolytus into a melodrama concerning the rich society of ship owners and their families, but still containing some of the tragic elements of the ancient drama. The film is set in Paris and London, and especially on the Greek island of Hydra.
Melina mercouri rodostamou from the film phaedra 1962
Phaedra, second wife of shipping tycoon Thanos (Raf Vallone), falls in love with her husband's son from his first marriage, Alexis (Anthony Perkins). The love is doomed from the very beginning but they are unable to control their feelings.
Phaedra was filmed in Greece, France, and Great Britain. The production company Jorilie Productions is only credited by the American copyright source and the films status as a French co-production is unconfirmed.
The movie was released in 1962. It was a hit in Europe but a box-office failure in the USA. Although Mercouri and Perkins became friends during the filming, the magazines, and especially Esquire magazine, attacked the film, because of Perkins's vulnerability. Phaedra was the first of several films that teamed Perkins with notable older female stars.
The music was composed by Mikis Theodorakis. In the soundtrack, Melina Mercouri sang two songs. The first one was written by Nikos Gatsos, a major Greek poet, and was sung by Mercouri and Perkins after their love scene in Paris. The other one was heard in the film as the main love theme. Both of the songs are popular in Greece and they have been performed by hundreds of singers and actors.
The toccata from Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue for organ in F major, BWV 540 was used prominently in the film.
Phaedra was released to DVD by MGM Home Entertainment on June 6, 2011 as a Region 1 fullscreen DVD-on-demand disc via MGM's Limited Edition Collection available through Amazon.