The film was the fourth collaboration between Dassin and Mercouri, who assumed the title role.
Greek writer Margarita Lymberaki adapted Euripides' Hippolytus into a melodrama based around the rich society of ship owners and their families, while still retaining many of the tragic elements of the ancient drama.
The film is set in Paris, London, and especially on the Greek island of Hydra. Phaedra, second wife of shipping tycoon Thanos (Raf Vallone), falls in love with her husband's son by his first marriage, Alexis (Anthony Perkins).
Their love is doomed from the very beginning, but they are unable to control their feelings.
Although Mercouri and Perkins became friends during the filming, the magazines, especially “Esquire”, attacked the film on the basis of Perkin's vulnerability.
It should be noted that Phaedra was the first film to team Perkins with notable older female stars. The music was composed by Mikis Theodorakis.
In the soundtrack, Melina Mercouri sang two songs. The first one was written by Nikos Gatsos, a major Greek poet, and was sung by Mercouri and Perkins after their love scene in Paris.
The second was heard throughout the film as the main love theme. Both songs are still very popular in Greece and have been performed by hundreds of singers and actors.