June 04, 2009

Hippolytus Perkins

Maybe it's no accident that Anthony Perkins, who redefined "mama's boy" in 1960's Psycho, should have played a Hippolytus figure in not one but two movies.

Eugene O'Neill's 1924 play Desire under the Elms - so loosely based on the Phaedra myth that Perkins's Eben and his smokin' new stepmother Anna (Sophia Loren) end up having a child together - was filmed in 1958:

Four years later, Jules Dassin and Margarita Lymberaki brought the story home to modern Greece, making Phaedra (Melina Mercouri) the second wife of a shipping tycoon, who falls for her stepson Alexis (Perkins):

Phaedra (1962)

These Hippolytuses (Hippolyti?) are a far cry from Euripides. In both movies, "Phaedra's" love for her husband's son may be forbidden, tortured, even doomed, but it's not unrequited, and it doesn't go unconsummated.

Norman Bates said, "A boy's best friend is his mother." And Hollywood likes its best friends with benefits.

Posted by Alison Humphrey at June 4, 2009 05:44 PM