“To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”



“A lot of actors turned it down,” laughed Anthiony Quinn, “and then it came to me.” 

So he made the role his own and in some cases was never been forgiven for it, giving critics the world over a simplistic shorthand – and put-down – for his later films.

Zorba The Pope: The Shoes of the Fisherman.

Zorba The Italian: The Secret of Santa Vittoria.

Zorba The Indian: Flap .

Zorba The Mayor: The City .

Zorba The Godfather: The Last Don .

And, obviously, Zorba The Greek Tycoon !

During its ten years shelf-life, certainly both Burt Ives and Burt Lancaster refused to dance.

Darryl Zanuck nominated Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck to replace Simone Signoret when the French star decided she was not right as the raddled old whore.

She was right.

She was not to be raddled enough for a few more years…

Signoret: “I was only 43…

I agreed to add 15 years.

I honestly tried. I swear I tried.” 

For a few days, she wore a false derriere and sagging breasts, a fake gold tooth, a plastic wart and “ridiculously frizzled hair.” Seven years before Brando’s Godfather, she also put cotton-wool balls inside her cheeks. Even her eyebrows were replaced with “moth-eaten little lines.”

All very tough, she felt, on her old make-up friends – “who’d always done their best to improve me.”

Last straw was when the production designer suggsted adding a photograph of the young Bouboulina on the set. Instead of simply using an old movie still, a new photo-session was ordered after Alex and Monique recreated Signoret’s coiffeure from her immortal French classic, Casque d’Or , 1952.

Result: “I’d lost ten years… I didn’t have the guts to go on. I no longer had the heart for my work. I didn’t want to be Bouboulina anymore; I left her on the beach in Crete. She was adopted by Lila Kedrova, who was more courageous than I was and who was rewarded with an Oscar. I wasn’t even punished for my cowardice. Michael wasn’t angry at me.”