The Greek Tycoon (1978)

R | 106 mins | Drama | 12 May 1978

Director:

J. Lee Thompson

Producers:

Allen Klein, Ely Landau

Cinematographer:

Tony Richmond

Editor:

Alan Strachan

Production Designer:

Michael Stringer

Production Company:

ABKCO Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

       Shortly after the death of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in March 1975, several film projects based on his life were put into development according to a 9 Jun 1975 LAHExam article. One such project was Tycoon from Greek film producer Nico Mastorakis who, according to a 12 Jun 1975 LAT news item, lined up Anthony Quinn to play Onassis and offered Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis $1 million to play herself in the biopic.
       Although a spokesperson for Mrs. Onassis characterized the possibility as "nonsense," Mastorakis claimed the offer was under discussion in a 9 Jul 1975 DV article. He also claimed to be mounting the $6 million biopic with the permission and cooperation of the Onassis family. Preliminary agreements were made with Julie Christie to play Jackie, Irene Papas to play Maria Callas (who had a famous affair with Aristotle Onassis) and Jacqueline Bisset to play Tina Onassis. Also lined up were Peter Barnes as screenwriter, Ted Moore as cinematographer, Vangelis Papathanassiou to write the score and “the Onassis family personal dressmaker” as costume designer. Ultimately, none of the above worked on the production with the exception of Jacqueline Bisset who was eventually cast in the role of "Liz Cassidy."
       According to a 3 Sep 1975 Var article, Carlo Borgia and Raymond R. Homer of Durham Productions, based in New York, signed on to produce and raise financing for the project, but indicated they were experiencing problems acquiring the Onassis’ family approval to move forward. In a 9 Nov 1975 Parade news item, Onassis family spokesperson Nigel Neilson denied any claims ... More Less

       Shortly after the death of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in March 1975, several film projects based on his life were put into development according to a 9 Jun 1975 LAHExam article. One such project was Tycoon from Greek film producer Nico Mastorakis who, according to a 12 Jun 1975 LAT news item, lined up Anthony Quinn to play Onassis and offered Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis $1 million to play herself in the biopic.
       Although a spokesperson for Mrs. Onassis characterized the possibility as "nonsense," Mastorakis claimed the offer was under discussion in a 9 Jul 1975 DV article. He also claimed to be mounting the $6 million biopic with the permission and cooperation of the Onassis family. Preliminary agreements were made with Julie Christie to play Jackie, Irene Papas to play Maria Callas (who had a famous affair with Aristotle Onassis) and Jacqueline Bisset to play Tina Onassis. Also lined up were Peter Barnes as screenwriter, Ted Moore as cinematographer, Vangelis Papathanassiou to write the score and “the Onassis family personal dressmaker” as costume designer. Ultimately, none of the above worked on the production with the exception of Jacqueline Bisset who was eventually cast in the role of "Liz Cassidy."
       According to a 3 Sep 1975 Var article, Carlo Borgia and Raymond R. Homer of Durham Productions, based in New York, signed on to produce and raise financing for the project, but indicated they were experiencing problems acquiring the Onassis’ family approval to move forward. In a 9 Nov 1975 Parade news item, Onassis family spokesperson Nigel Neilson denied any claims of family approval. Neilson was quoted as saying "Christina Onassis Andreadis loathes the idea of such a film ... And the Onassis family has had and will have nothing to do with Mr. Mastorakis."
       Durham Productions then gave Mastorakis a 31 Dec 1975 deadline to obtain the releases from the Onassis family or they would pull out of the production, as reported in a 3 Dec 1975 DV article. Mastorakis claimed the Onassis family lawyers “assured him” there would be no legal roadblocks. According to a 10 Dec 1975 Var article, Mastorakis claimed he “fired” Durham Productions due to their “preposterous” ultimatum. Mastorakis chose to move forward with the production on his own, now taking over the screenwriting duties along with writer Win Wells. He was still seeking signed releases from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Christina Onassis and Maria Callas while Anthony Quinn was still on board to play Aristotle. Bob Meyers of JAD Films had signed on to pre-sell distribution rights to foreign territories.
       According to a 19 May 1976 DV article, with Laurence Myers of London based GTO Films now on board, Mastorakis threw a $70,000 promotional party at the Cannes Film Festival. The goal was to raise funds and distribution guarantees for the project. Myers and Mastorakis indicated that most of the production would be funded by Greek business interests.
       The following month, Mastorakis changed the production from a straight biopic to a fictionalized version of the Aristotle Onassis story. The story would now be about a Greek tycoon called "Aristotle Anestis" and "Jennifer Astor," the widow of an assassinated American politician, according to a 16 Jun 1976 LAT article. By then, Jacqueline Bisset had officially signed on to play the widow.
A 3 Nov 1976 Var article stated that principal photography was slated to begin March 1977 in Greece. Fashion designer Halston signed on to design all of Jacqueline Bisset’s 30 costumes for the production, according to a 6 May 1977 Woman’s Wear Daily article, but he did not receive onscreen credit for his designs.
       By the time the film went into production, British-based Abkco Films had taken over from GTO Films and Nico Mastorakis’ role was reduced to co-producer. Allen Klein, president of Abkco Films, took over producer duties along with at least five others, which resulted in on set power struggles and confusion on the set , as reported in a 21 Jul 1977 Women’s Wear Daily article.
       According to a 30 Aug 1977 DV article, Universal Pictures beat out Paramount Pictures for domestic distribution rights. They offered $8 - $10 million upfront and agreed to pay $7 million in advertising and promotion. The final budget of the film was $6.4 million dollars. Anthony Quinn was paid $400,000 plus a percentage of the profits for his participation. Jacqueline Bisset was paid $250,000.
       The Greek Tycoon was first screened 12 Feb 1978 at ShoWest in San Diego, according to a 10 Feb 1978 HR news item; while an 18 May 1978 HR item reported that the film opened 12 May 1978, grossing $2,088,638 in 349 theatres its opening weekend.
      The film’s end credits state: "Travel facilities by Olympic Hoidays (London), Wellings and McMillian (London), Starlite Travel (Athens), with thanks to the Astir Palace Hotels at Voulaagment, Athens and Corfu for the use of their facilities." The producers also acknowledge the co-operation of: The Ministry of Presidency, Undersecretary of Press and Information, The Greek National Tourism organization, The Ministry of Culture and Science, Archaeological Society, The Municipal Authorities of Corfu and Mykonos, The Police and Gendarme Headquarters of Greece, The Civil Aviation Authority and Olympic Airways. The end credits then conclude with the following statement: "Filmed on location in Corfu, Mykonos, Athens, New York, Washington, London, The Solent and at E.M.I. Elstree Studios, England."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Jul 1977.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1975
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1977.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1978.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 1978.
---
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1978
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1978.
---
LAHExam
9 Jun 1975.
---
LAHExam
11 Jun 1975.
---
LAHExam
12 Jun 1975.
---
LAHExam
19 Jun 1975.
---
LAHExam
18 Jul 1975.
---
LAHExam
26 Oct 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1975
Part IV, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1977
Calendar, p. 1, 56.
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1978
p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1978
p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1978.
---
New York Times
12 May 1978
p. 10.
Parade
9 Nov 1975.
---
People
14 Jun 1976.
---
Time
28 Jul 1975.
---
Time
14 Jun 1976.
---
Time
12 Sep 1977.
---
Variety
3 Sep 1975
p. 5, 27.
Variety
10 Dec 1975.
---
Variety
3 Nov 1976.
---
Variety
10 May 1978.
---
Variety
10 May 1978
p. 2.
Variety
17 May 1978.
---
Variety
31 May 1978.
---
Variety
20 Dec 1978.
---
Women's Wear Daily
6 May 1977.
---
Women's Wear Daily
21 Jul 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Allen Klein Presents
An abkco Films, Inc. Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
1st asst dir, Greece
1st asst dir, U.S.A.
Prod mgr, Greece
Prod mgr, U.K.
Prod mgr, U.S.A.
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Clapper loader
Asst clapper loader
Gaffer
Unit stills man
Spec unit cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, U.K.
Art dir, U.S.
Art dir, U.S.
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assembly ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const mgr
Prop master, Greece
Prop master, U.K.
Prop buyer
Stand-by prop man
COSTUMES
Cost co-ord
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and orch
Exec in charge of mus
Mus rec coord
Mus supv and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd boom
Sd ed
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
MAKEUP
Chief make-up artist
Make-up artist
Chief hairdresser
Hairdresser
Miss Bisset's hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod consultant
Bus affairs
Bus affairs
Prod accountant
Controller
Legal affairs
Continuity
Helicopter pilot
Aerobatic pilot
Casting dir
Casting dir
Prod asst, U.S.A.
Loc mgr, Greece
Prod assoc, Greece
Transport mgr, Greece
Transport mgr, U.S.A.
Prod secy
Unit pub
Asst unit pub
Asst to the asst unit pub
Accountant
Accountant
Accountant
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod secy
Loc prod runner
Prods' driver
Prod physician
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Main Title Theme," written by John Kongos, arranged and conducted by Ron Frangipane
"Taverna Music," arranged by George Theodosiadis.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Tycoon
The Tycoon
The Onassis Story
Release Date:
12 May 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 12 May 1978 at Avco 1, Egyptian Theater
Production Date:
6 June to mid September 1977 in Greece, Monte Carlo, England, France and the U.S.
Copyright Claimant:
ABKCO Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 July 1978
Copyright Number:
PA8978
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Technovision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25133
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a tanker in Norwegian waters, Theo Tomasis listens as his ship's captain tries to obtain permission from a Norwegian naval officer to dock in Narvik. The officer threatens to fire on the tanker if they don't allow the Norwegian navy to board and inspect Theo's cargo. Theo ignores their demands and walks away to greet a party of Japanese businessmen who have just landed on the tanker via helicopter. The naval boat fires a warning shot before sending sailors to board the ship. The Norwegian officer tells Theo that he is under arrest for illegally hunting whales under the Greek flag in Norwegian waters. However, Theo counters that he is just a guest on the tanker, which is now under Japanese ownership. The naval officer is infuriated that Theo managed to sell his ship in the middle of the ocean. Theo returns to Greece and greets his wife, Simi, and his son, Nico. At a house party, Theo is approached by his brother Spyros, who wants to discuss a tanker he wants to purchase. Theo claims he's not interested, but immediately turns around and tells Nico about the tanker. Theo wants Nico to start his own fleet of tankers and encourages him to resort to blackmail in order to buy the one out from under Spyros. Nico insists on making the deal fairly as he is not comfortable with blackmail, but Theo warns Nico that if he wants to go into business he must be willing to play dirty. Simi introduces Theo to Senator James Cassidy and his wife, Liz. Theo invites the couple to a party on his yacht later in the evening, where he introduces James ... +


On a tanker in Norwegian waters, Theo Tomasis listens as his ship's captain tries to obtain permission from a Norwegian naval officer to dock in Narvik. The officer threatens to fire on the tanker if they don't allow the Norwegian navy to board and inspect Theo's cargo. Theo ignores their demands and walks away to greet a party of Japanese businessmen who have just landed on the tanker via helicopter. The naval boat fires a warning shot before sending sailors to board the ship. The Norwegian officer tells Theo that he is under arrest for illegally hunting whales under the Greek flag in Norwegian waters. However, Theo counters that he is just a guest on the tanker, which is now under Japanese ownership. The naval officer is infuriated that Theo managed to sell his ship in the middle of the ocean. Theo returns to Greece and greets his wife, Simi, and his son, Nico. At a house party, Theo is approached by his brother Spyros, who wants to discuss a tanker he wants to purchase. Theo claims he's not interested, but immediately turns around and tells Nico about the tanker. Theo wants Nico to start his own fleet of tankers and encourages him to resort to blackmail in order to buy the one out from under Spyros. Nico insists on making the deal fairly as he is not comfortable with blackmail, but Theo warns Nico that if he wants to go into business he must be willing to play dirty. Simi introduces Theo to Senator James Cassidy and his wife, Liz. Theo invites the couple to a party on his yacht later in the evening, where he introduces James to former British Prime Minister, Robert Keith. Theo's mistress, famous Greek actress Sophia Matalas, makes a dramatic entrance. Later, Theo takes Liz Cassidy on a boat tour and charms her with a story of his father and his peasant upbringing. James interrupts and informs Liz that he got the call about his presidential bid. Eventually, Theo and Matalas leave the party together for a sexual rendezvous. While Matalas insists on marrying Theo, he claims he will never divorce Simi. In New York, Theo meets with business executive Michael Russell to broker a multi-million dollar deal to buy tankers. Russell asks Theo about his clout with the new president, James Cassidy. Russell wants Theo to connect with the president's brother John Cassidy, the new attorney general. Theo asks if Russell foresees any legal troubles on the horizon, but Russell insists everything is fine. Later, Theo attends a White House party and congratulates the Cassidys on their pregnancy. He invites them to return to Greece for a future visit. Back in Greece, Simi begs Theo for a divorce, but he refuses. In Washington, Liz suffers a miscarriage. A year later, Liz, James, John and his wife discuss Theo's latest invitation. While Liz wants to go for a change of pace, James and John are suspicious Theo just wants to use them in the future. James also worries about what it would look like to have the First Lady spending time with such a questionable businessman. Ultimately, Liz convinces James to let her go and Theo gives her a grand welcome upon her arrival. He personally shows her around the Greek islands. At a restaurant, Theo encourages Liz to dance, but she is too embarrassed. However, when Theo dances with a local woman, Liz looks on with envy. Liz interrupts their dance by throwing a dish and stepping in. As Liz and Theo dance, she is thrown by how intimate it feels, and she insists on returning to the U.S. Disappointed, Theo begs her to come back in the future, but she insists she can never return. At home, as Liz and James stroll along the beach, James is assassinated. At the memorial service in Washington, DC, Theo gives Liz his condolences. Back in Greece, Theo cuts a deal to sell tankers to the Saudi Arabian king. Spyros warns Theo that the U.S government may not approve of giving the Saudis a way to haul their own oil since it might cut out the American oil companies. Spyros also tells Theo he's heard rumors that Simi will soon file for divorce, however, Theo refuses to believe it. Later, as Theo leaves a movie premiere with Matalas, he is served the divorce papers. Theo calls Liz to encourage her to return to Greece, but she is reluctant, fearing that their association will hurt John Cassidy's presidential bid, but she tells him she is sick of grieving and wants to do something just for herself for a change. In Greece, Theo lavishes Liz with attention until he leaves on business. In New York, Theo and Nico visit a nightclub. Nico informs Theo that the U.S government has impounded eight of their ships, so Theo plans on meeting with Michael Russell, who is now the attorney general. Just then, the FBI arrives at the nightclub and arrests Theo for violations of the merchant marine act. When Theo does meet with Russell, he angrily accuses John Cassidy of using him to intimidate the Saudis. Theo wants to know what he can do to buy his way out of this problem. Russell says Theo will lose 20 ships, millions of dollars and it will probably take a miracle to keep himself out of jail. Theo returns to Greece and proposes to Liz. She's not sure. When she worries about being controlled like she was with the Cassidy family, Theo offers her a very generous marriage contract and a lot of personal freedom. She agrees and they wed. At the wedding reception, Theo is furious with his brother Spyros for bringing Simi and then chastises Nico for being rude to the "most famous woman in the world." Nico asks if Liz's fame was the only reason Theo married her then tells his father that Spyros intends to marry Simi just to spite him. Then, on his wedding night, Theo admits to his new bride that he intends on continuing to see his mistress, Matalas. Later, at a business lunch, Liz tries to give her opinion and Theo yells at her to stay out of his business. Theo tries to apologize to a furious Liz, but she calls him a bore and attacks him. Theo thinks she's sexy when she's angry and convinces her to forgive him. Receiving a call that Simi has committed suicide, Theo picks a fight with Spyros over who is at fault. Theo and Nico travel to Washington to make a deal to keep Theo out of jail. In the ensuing settlement, Theo is ordered to return all of the ships the U.S. government helped him purchase and to pay a fine of $7.5 million. Furthermore, Theo agrees to bring some of his tanker business to the U.S. instead of Europe. Russell congratulates Theo on his savvy move of marrying Liz to give him leverage. After the meeting, Theo is very proud of how Nico handled the deal, and he thinks he is ready to take over the family business. Theo now wants to spend his free time with Liz. Later, Theo is notified that his son has died in a plane crash. Theo grieves deeply and becomes a shell of his former self. Liz convinces Theo to go to a doctor, to whom he discusses his goal of becoming president of Greece. However, the doctor informs Theo he doesn't have long to live. Upon returning home, when Liz asks Theo what the doctor said, he lies and says he's fine. Sending his wife off to Paris, Theo Theo goes to a small Greek island by himself and dances amongst the peasants by the shore at sunset. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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