If ever there was a role that Anthony Quinn was born to play, it was the lusty, life-affirming title character in Zorba the Greek. The scene is the isle of Crete, where English writer Alan Bates arrives in the hopes of realigning his own values and outlook on life. He is "adopted" by the flamboyant Zorba, who determines to educate Bates in the ways of the world-or, to be more precise, Zorba's world. Along the way, Bates is introduced to widow Irene Papas, the unrequited love object of everyone on the island, who comes to a tragic end when she is accused of adultery. The writer is also a spectator to the equally benighted romance between Zorba and venerable courtesan Lila Kedrova. Other disasters follow, but Zorba is able to convince Bates that failure is an inescapable part of life, and that only by constantly tasting defeat can one truly enjoy life's victories. Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek earned Oscars for actress Lila Kedrova, cinematographer Walter Lassally and art director Vassilis Fotopoulos.
by Hal Erickson synopsis