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Papas, Irene

PAPAS, Irene



Nationality: Greek. Born: Irene Lelekou in Chiliomodion, 9 March 1926. Education: Attended the Royal Drama School, Athens. Family: Married 1) Alkis Papas, 1947 (marriage dissolved 1951); 2) José Kohn, 1957 (marriage annulled). Career: Singer and dancer from her teens in variety shows; 1950—film debut in Nekri Politeia; contract with Lux films (Italy) in early 1950s; made several U.S. films in the mid-1950s, and international productions subsequently; 1967—on Broadway with Jon Voight in That Summer—That Fall. Address: c/o United Film Distribution, 115 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:

1951

Nekri Politeia (Dead City) (Iliades)

1953

Le infideli (The Unfaithfuls) (Steno and Monicelli) (as Mrs. Luisa Azzali); Dramma della Casbah (Anton); Vortice (Matarazzo); The Man from Cairo (Enright) (as Yvonne)

1954

Teodora, Imperatrice di Bisanzio (Theodora, Slave and Empress) (Freda); Attila flagello di dio (Attila; Attila the Hun) (Francisci) (as Grune)

1956

Tribute to a Bad Man (Wise) (as Jocasta Constantine); The Power and the Prize (Koster)

1960

Antigone (Rights for the Dead) (Tzavellas) (title role)

1961

The Guns of Navarone (J. Lee Thompson) (as Maria Pappadimos)

1962

Electra (Cacoyannis) (title role)

1964

The Moon-Spinners (Neilson) (as Sophia); Zorba the Greek (Cacoyannis) (as the widow)

1965

Die Zeugin aus der Hölle (Witness Out of Hell; Gorge Trave; Bitter Grass) (Mitrovic) (as Lea Weiss)

1966

Roger la Honte (Freda)

1967

Más allá de las montañas (Beyond the Mountains; The Desperate Ones) (Ramati) (as Ajmi); A ciascuno il sou (We Still Kill the Old Way) (Petri) (as Luisa Roscio)

1968

The Brotherhood (Ritt) (as Ida Ginetta); Ecce Homo (Gaburro); L'Odissea (Rossi—for TV)

1969

Z (Costa-Gavras) (as Hélène); A Dream of Kings (Delbert Mann) (as Caliope); Anne of the Thousand Days (Jarrott) (as Queen Catherine of Aragon)

1971

The Trojan Women (Cacoyannis) (as Helen of Troy); Roma Bene (Lizzani); N.P. (N.P.—The Secret) (Agosti) (as housewife); Un posto ideale per uccidere (Lenzi)

1972

Non si servizia un paperino (Don't Torture the Duckling) (Fulci); Piazza Pulita (1931: Once upon a Time in New York; Pete, Pearl and the Pole) (Vanzi); Sutjeska (The Fifth Offensive) (Vanzi)

1974

Le faró da padre (Bambina) (Lattuada)

1975

Mose (Moses; The Lawgiver) (De Bosio—for TV) (as Zipporah)

1976

The Message (Mohammad, Messenger of God; Al-Risalah) (Akkad) (as Hind); Bodas de sangre (Barka)

1977

L'uomo di Corleone (Coletti); Un ombra nell' ombra (Carpi); Iphigenia (Cacoyannis) (as Clytemnestra)

1979

Bloodline (Terence Young) (as Simonetta Palazza); Cristo si e fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) (Rosi) (as Giulia)

1981

Lion of the Desert (Omar Mukhtar) (Akkad—produced in 1979) (as Mabrouka)

1982

Erendira (Guerra) (as grandmother); La Ballade de Mamlouk (Bouassida)

1983

Il disertore (The Deserter) (Berlinquer) (as Mariangela); Afghanistan porquoi (Masbahi)

1984

Steps (Hirschfield); The Assisi Underground (Ramati) (as Mother Giuseppina)

1985

Into the Night (Landis) (as Shaheen Parvizi)

1987

Sweet Country (Cacoyannis) (as Mrs. Araya); High Season (Peploe) (as Penelope)

1988

Cronaca di una morte annunciata (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) (Rosi) (as Angela's Mother)

1989

Island (Cox) (as Marquise); Ociano (Deodato—for TV)

1990

La Batalla de los Tres Reyes (as Lalla Sahaba)

1991

Drums of Fire; Banquet

1992

Lettera da Parigi (The Latest from Paris) (Giordani) (as Gina); Zoe

1993

Pano Kato Ke Plagios (Up, Down and Sideways) (Cacoyannis) (as Maria)

1994

Jacob (Peter Hall—for TV) (as Rebekah)

1996

Party (de Oliveira) (as Irene)

1997

The Odyssey (Konchalovsky—mini for TV) (as Anticlea)

1998

Inquietude (Anxiety) (de Oliveira) (as Mother)

1999

Yerma (Távora)

2000

The Wog Boy (Vellis) (as Old Lady)

Publications


By PAPAS: articles—

"Interviews with Michael Cacoyannis and Irene Papas," in Bucknell Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 1990.

"Irene Papas a Toronto," interview with E. Castiel, in Séquences (Montreal), November/December 1993.


On PAPAS: articles—

Ecran (Paris), July 1978.

Ciné Revue (Paris), 16 August 1979.

García Márquez, Gabriel, "Behind the Scenes: Chronicle of a Film Foretold," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), September 1984.

McDonald, M., "Interviews with Michael Cacoyannis and Irene Papas," in Bucknell Review, vol. 35, no. 1, 1991.


* * *

Some actors and roles seem predestined for each other. From the opening shot of Michael Cacoyannis's Electra, as the proud, implacable face emerges from encroaching shadows, it becomes impossible to imagine anyone else as Euripides's heroine. Erect, immutably dignified, dark eyes burning fiercely beneath heavy black brows, Irene Papas visibly embodies the sublimity of classical Greece, tragic yet serene. "I had never thought," Dilys Powell wrote, "to see the face of the great Apollo from the Olympia pediment live and move. Now I have seen it."

Cacoyannis continued to provide some of her finest roles: as the caged Helen, eyes flashing, defying the execrations of The TrojanWomen; and in Iphigenia, the third in his Euripidean trilogy, as Clytemnestra, terrible in her grief, even more terrible in the cold, vengeful tenacity that succeeds it. He also cast her, memorably, as the widow in Zorba the Greek: cool marble to Lila Kedrova's raddled plush, yet still conveying a powerful sensuality beneath the impassive surface which rendered wholly credible the final appalling explosion into violence.

So awe-inspiring a presence has often worked to Papas's detriment, tending to limit her roles—especially in Hollywood, where she has generally been assigned Mother Earth parts, requiring little more than stoical suffering or elemental fury. Yet her range is certainly wider—she started out, after all, in Athenian musical reviews. Italy, her second home during the Colonels' regime (which she contemptuously termed "the fourth Reich"), has sometimes offered more imaginative scope. Her housekeeper in Rosi's Cristo si e fermato a Eboli, bathing Gian Maria Volonté in a tin tub and commenting with sly appreciation on his physique, suggests a talent for subtle comedy hitherto unsuspected by international audiences—and which it would be good to see developed.

—Philip Kemp

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