The names have all been changed and so have some of the events, but it's pretty obvious that "The Greek Tycoon" is all about the relationship between Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy. But despite brilliant lead actors and luxuriant scenery, the movie feels like it was ripped from a tedious "what if?" novel.
Theo Tomasis (Anthony Quinn) is a Greek shipping magnate with some shady business dealings, a fleet of tankers, a wife, a famous actress as his mistress (Luciana Paluzzi) and a business-savvy son. Then he meets Liz Cassidy (Jacqueline Bisset), the wife of a prominent US Senator who is soon elected president, and is immediately struck by her.
Then the president is killed. Since she's a widow and he's divorced, Theo proposes marriage to Liz because "you make me feel alive" -- and despite her worries about remarrying, she accepts. But their marriage is a stormy one from the very first night, and from then on Theo's life falls into one disaster after another.
Visually, "The Greek Tycoon" is a truly beautiful movie -- lush Grecian villas, luxurious yachts, and rocky coasts rings by the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, it has to coast on looks most of the time, because the story is basically a mishmash of watered-down biographical facts and "What if?" scenarios (Liz throwing a crotch-kicking tantrum). It's not really terrible, but it's very vanilla.
And as the changed names imply, the director and screenwriters play it very, very safe -- little of the true strife of the Jackie/Aristotle marriage is explored, and personal tragedies are brushed aside as if they didn't matter much (the president's death). Even the epic affair that Tomasis/Onassis had with Paola Scotti/Maria Callas is reduced to a couple of vaguely racy scenes, then never mentioned again.
There's no passion, feeling or vibrancy to the story. The only exception is a few brief scenes at the end when we see Aristotle... er, Theo left alone on his island, like an aged Odysseus, dancing silently in front of his own personal sunset.
Quinn and Bisset are both excellent actors -- she brings genuine refinement to Liz, and he brings deep passion and joie de vivre. Unfortunately, they seem stiff at times -- t's like a pair of master potters have been handed a giant lump of Play-Doh, and aren't entirely sure what they're supposed to do with it.
"The Greek Tycoon" is gorgeous and has a couple of deeply talented actors as the leads, but it's all skin-deep as a story. It's all bone, no meat.