WORLD CINEMA: Purple Noon (1960)

We’re back in France (and Italy)! This time, with the first film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr Ripley, Plein Soleil or Purple Noon (1960, dir. René Clément). You know the story: Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) is sent to Italy to get Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) to come back to America to take over his family’s business. Instead, the two of them, along with Philippe’s girlfriend Marge (Marie Laforêt), enjoy an idyllic summer, drinking and partying, until one morning when Tom kills Philippe on his yacht in an attempt to steal his identity. What follows is an increasingly tense game of cat-and-mouse as Ripley continues to act out his plan…

The role that propelled him to stardom, Alain Delon, twenty-five years old and obscenely, almost offensively good-looking, is Tom Ripley at his most deliciously conniving. A classic example of a villain we root for, sort of, maybe, Tom Ripley is charming, smug, smart and heartless and he uses all of that to his advantage. And, in one of my favorite tropes in cinema, his crimes are set against the backdrop of a gorgeous place to further contextualize their horribleness. Such crimes are, of course, nearly impossible to pull off in this day and age, which makes them even more fascinating when played out in a film from 1960 (or even 1999) and it’s almost a privilege to watch his mind at work as he gradually descends into something we’re not sure he’s going to get out of… The screenplay written by Clément himself and Paul Gégauff conveys this beautifully and the climax is equally rewarding – in fact, they won the Edgar for Best Foreign Film Screenplay in 1962 for their work on the film.

With a score by Nino Rota resembling, yes, the one from The Godfather, Purple Noon’s dream-like essence is intoxicating as we fall under Tom Ripley’s spell on that lovely Mediterranean coastline. *sigh* a French film set in Italy… my heart can’t take such perfection!

5 thoughts on “WORLD CINEMA: Purple Noon (1960)

  1. Mike noonan

    I thought you might pick this film, Carol, as you had mentioned it in previous posts. I’m glad you did as I want to see it. I enjoyed “the talented mr. Ripley”. I will let you know when I have seen it,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike noonan

    Agree Carol. A compelling film that keeps you
    Guessing. Nice idea about the evil deeds played against beautiful scenery. The one area where I think the remake was better was in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s excellent performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Re-recommending summer movies! – The Old Hollywood Garden

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