Ode to a Grecian Isle

Hristo (Takis Emmanuel) and Joana (Irene Papas) have a conversation about donkeys on the island of Santorini in STEPS (1966).

Who says trying to run away from your problems can’t be therapeutic? Sometimes you just need some time alone in a completely different environment to sort yourself out and get a different perspective. That is exactly what Joanna does. An aspiring artist who is stuck in a dead end existence in Athens, Greece, she takes a one month vacation away from the city. It is also a brief escape from living with her depressed father, who is still grieving over his wife’s death. Joanna takes a ferry to the island of Santorini and it is there that she opens up to new possibilities in her life as well as a renewed desire to make art again. This is the basic set-up of May Sarton’s 1963 novel Joanna and Ulysses but the 1966 film version entitled Steps (Greek title: Ta Skalopatia) takes numerous liberties with the story and turns it into something much more ambiguous and unresolved, courtesy of screenwriters Vassilis Vassilikos, Glenn P. Wolfe and Leonard Hirschfield, who also directs. It would be Hirschfield’s sole directorial feature.

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Middle Age Crazy

original posterIt’s hard to imagine a more unlikely prospect for a film adaptation than John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer, which was first published in The New Yorker. Yet, it was actually adapted into a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Burt Lancaster. Was it a success? Hardly. Even though a handful of critics endorsed it, the public stayed away but for some who were lucky enough to see it, the film resonated for years. Now it is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Grindhouse Releasing and a reassessment is in order. Continue reading