Free spirit and prostitute Ilya (Melina Mercouri) lives in a Greek port city. Open and amiable, she makes friends often and easily. She encounters Homer Thrace (Jules Dassin), a vacationing American who is obsessed with ancient Greek culture. Homer feels that modern Greece is a shadow of its former self, and he believes that Ilya is a prime example of contemporary decadence. He makes it his goal to amend Ilya's easygoing ways, but she has stronger principles than Homer expected.