A couple of years ago in Greece I had to spend a couple of months taking care of certain estate matters. I was on Samos, a beautiful mountainous island, very close to Turkey. We were staying in Samos City as it is called but the locals call it by its old name Vathi. Vathi was, at the time, home to a migrant camp which has since burnt down. The Turks across the way were gleefully helping illegal migrants to Islamify Greece an age-old enemy. For many a Turk it was a chance to launch the New Crusade. Apparently the annexation of part of Cyprus by the Turks was only the beginning of the New Crusades.
Not being a tourist centre, certainly not helped by the hundreds of migrants, Vathi is the gateway to some wonderful beach towns and many unexplored villages in the mountains. There is a very decent bus service that can take you where you want.
Now not being a spring chicken after a great dinner at Welcome Restaurant really there was not much to do but head home, turn on the television and watch a nightly Greek film usually from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Do Greeks have a robust sense of humour? I am not sure I can answer that and after living within the Greek community for close to 50 years I apologize for not being able to answer that question. But from the daily Greek film buffet from the 1950’s and 1960’s I can say they are so very good at lampooning politicians, the wealthy and even the military but in an “overdone” fashion with the victims of the lampooning coming across like comedic buffoons.
“Jenny” is a 1966 film and although it lampoons politicians and the wealthy it is to me a feminist film which is quite remarkable as in 1966 feminism in Europe and North America was hardly on the radar screen.
Jenny (Tzeni Karezi) is an attractive, ambitious student hoping to teach at the university level. Her father Kosmas Skoutaris (Dionysis Papagiannnopoulos) is a blustery candy maker deeply in debt. He supports a political candidate Gortzos in an upcoming election on the quiet island somewhere in Greece!
Now Jenny often visits the home of Lambros Konstantaras (Miltos Kassandris) a wealthy shipowner as he owns a large collection of Greek classic literature. Lambros has a nephew returning from New York Nikos Mantas (Andreas Barkoulis) who he wants to set up as a candidate to run against Gortzos.
Now if only Lambros can takeout Gortzos by having Jenny marry Nikos and turn Jenny’s father away from his support for Gortzos. And he does forging ahead with the marriage of Jenny and Nikos. Apparently Nikos is already married to an American Greek but the marriage was not a marriage as Nikos was very drunk and married by a gangster as opposed to a priest. Do you see the farce! So the “white marriage” of Jenny and Nikos is not a sham but a real one and you can guess the result as this is a “romantic comedy” in part!
Jenny is blackmailed into a marriage with Nikos as Lambros buys Kosmas’ debt and if she marries Nikos the debts will be forgiven. Perhaps I best stop here before you get confused. But what I will say Jenny is very sharp and personable and politically astute so much more than the bumbling Nikos. She leaves all the men far behind her wake. In fact they all look like bumbling idiots. So ahead of its time.
A very engaging critique of 1960’s Greek society is where I should leave off. Entertaining but far from fluff.
You can access the film through the Hellenic Film Society USA at www.hellenicfilmusa.org and it runs until 31 May.
The film was directed by Dimos Dimopoulos is in Greek with English subtitles.
You can see a trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S60WEF1Uu4s&t=2s