Hydra – Behind the scenes of the movie "A Boy on A Dolphin"
David Devine's novel of the same title, published in 1955 and made into a film starring Sophia Loren and set on the island of Hydra, has made cinema history. The case concerns the precious find of a shipwreck, a gilded bronze statue of a boy on a dolphin, which is supposed to have magical powers. This statue is discovered by chance by a poor sponge. The tangle begins when she confides her discovery to her friend and the island doctor. Hydra is the central location where the film takes place.
Refinement, an aristocratic air, a unique architectural identity and a rich history of an island that slowly began to take over in the "golden" decade of the 60s when Greek cinema - and not only - was in full bloom. Here you will read unknown behind-the-scenes details of the legendary film.
- This is the first Hollywood production filmed in Greece and the first American production with Sophia Loren as the protagonist.
- Sophia Loren who played Phaedra was already a popular star in Greece. He arrived in Athens in September 1956 for filming. At the airport, she was greeted by people from the production as well as her fans. The crowd that had gathered was so large that the intervention of the police was necessary to decongest the situation. Similar was what happened when he arrived in Hydra for filming. She herself admitted afterwards that she had never experienced anything like this before in her career.
- Lauren stayed 39 days in Hydra. He also filmed in the Acropolis, the monument of the Unknown Soldier and in Glyfada. He also did some filming in Piraeus with Alexis Minotis, while he stayed in Epidaurus and Meteora for a week.
- Initial candidates for the roles included Joan Collins, Robert Wagner, Gina Lollobridgeta and Cary Grant.
- The filming was done by an echelon of 20th Century Fox, whose president at the time was the Greek-born American Spyros Skouras.
- From the end of September to the beginning of November 1956, the filming took place in Hydra. Filming in Meteora followed until the beginning of December. At the time of filming, Hydra was still an unknown island abroad.
- The crew made up of Italians from Tsinecitta and Greek technicians worked day and night to complete the outdoor shooting before the weather turned cold and the story started in the summer, according to the script. But luck was on their side, as all October there was sunshine and no wind.
- The offices of the production company were installed on the cruise ship "Mercury" of the shipowner Andreas Potamianos, which was anchored in Mandraki. Some filming took place in "Hermi". All the staff lived in it, as did two of the four main characters – Clifton Webb, who played the foreign antiquarian, along with his mother, and Jorge Mistral who played Phaedra's partner, as well as Lauren's concubine, Sheila Gabel. Sophia Loren lived in a mansion where her husband Carlo Ponti often visited her, while Alan Lund stayed on the boat "Daphne".
- In the 20th Century Fox crew, many who later became famous in the art world worked in supporting jobs to gain experience, but also because the pay at the time was astronomical. Among them was the well-known writer Kostas Tachtsis, who had been hired as an assistant to the screenwriter Ivan Moffat, and Thanasis Vengos, who worked as a crew technician.
- The films of the project were transported to Athens on the speedboat "Erietta" of Yiannis Latsis, while the corrections were sent to Hydra by telegrams.
- Alexis Minotis who lived in Hydra played the role of the policeman, while his wife Katina Paxinos often came to keep him company, but also for a few games of backgammon at the beach cafes.
- The difficult scenes with long dives and swimming under water were filmed by the actors' bodies.
- Towards the end of the film there is a scene where there is a big party on the island. It wasn't hard to find extras for that scene as locals and the few holidaymakers had already gathered at the scene where the scene would be shot. At that party, dancers from Dora Stratou's troupe danced Greek dances, and then Lauren sang "What They Call Love" by Takis Morakis.