Michael Cacoyannis’s follow-up to his highly acclaimed Zorba the Greek (1964) couldn’t have been more different, or more of a disappointment: a ham-fisted satire that falls prisoner to the modish mood of its time.
Tom Courtenay and Colin Blakely play NATO airmen whose plane – carrying a pair of H-bombs and a box of radioactive material – develops engine trouble and ditches in the sea near a Greek island.
The two airmen swim ashore and spend the rest of the film trying to get to a phone without being seen. Their government sends a search party headed by Chief of Intelligence Elias (Sam Wanamaker) to recover the cargo. Disguised as hotel builders, they unknowingly promote a tourist trade.
Meanwhile, a poor goatherd (Nikos Alexiou) has found the Pandora-like box and is determined to open it. Attractive archaeologist Electra (Candice Bergen) – who is more interested in men than her work – inadvertently supplies the means to open the box.
As you can imagine, the laugh quota substantially drops when locals start getting contaminated.
Cacoyannis, who not only directs but also wrote the screenplay, struggles to integrate the clashing styles of farce and realism into any coherent whole.
Amid all the fake psychedelia, you can spot a fresh-faced Candice Bergen and a pre-Return of The Saint Ian Ogilvy.