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Monday, January 20, 2014

To Teleftaio Psema (aka A Matter Of Dignity) (1958)

A young girl (Ellie Lambeti) is a member of Greece's upper class. But when her family faces bankruptcy, her mother (Athena Michaelidou) pushes her toward a marriage of convenience with a wealthy man (Minas Christidis) in the hopes he will help the family out of their financial woes. Directed by Michael Cacoyannis (ZORBA THE GREEK), this is an insightful look at a young girl lost in the privileges of the wealthy classes without a strong moral center, who finds herself questioning their/her values at a heavy price. The film casually takes its time setting up her "glamorous" if empty lifestyle of club hopping, expensive clothes, yacht parties (one might assume we're in Antonioni territory here) before it rapidly turns the table on us. The lovely Lambeti, who starred in Cacoyannis' earlier A GIRL IN BLACK, gives a strong performance that is good enough that one wishes she had a more prominent film career (she only did two more movies). Handsomely shot in B&W by Walter Lassally (TOM JONES). With Eleni Zafeiriou who gives film's other strong performance as the put upon housekeeper, Giorgos Pappas and Michalis Nikolinakos.

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