This Saturday's films in 130 Kane at 7:30 pm are thrillers: one sophisticated; the other unsophisticated, but God, it's neat, and they are Rene Clément's "Purple Noon" and Brian DePalma's "Sisters"
"Purple Noon" or "Plein Soleil" (René Clément, 1960) Clément's "Purple Noon" was shown on TV Thursday night under a different title—"Lust for Evil"—and in a dubbed English version. Even if you saw it on Channel 9,* you should go see it Saturday night because, let's face it, movies always lose something on the television screen,** especially if they're dubbed in a sort of ill-fitting English as the televised version was.
"Purple Noon" is the story of two somewhat irresponsible young men. They tour the streets at night looking for trouble, rousting whoever they can. And in the course of the plot, one of them is murdered by the other. But how can Alain Delon, who plays the murderer, get away with it? Well, it happened out at sea, they were alone on the victim's boat (the victim's fiancé in a fit of pique had gone ashore), there were no witnesses.
But won't people, especially those close to the victim notice his disappearance? Delon has a plan for that: he is an excellent forger, he has the victim's belongings, his passport, and he can imitate his voice. And the fascination in this story is in the second portion. Will Delon be detected by those who knew the victim—especially the fiancé? Will he get out of all the close calls? How will he avoid it? It's a run through a maze and it culminates without a nice surprise ending.
|Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt, and Alain Delon as the talented Mr. Ripley
Broadcast February 12, 1977
|Mr. Ripley's one true love
|Clément isolates Ripley and gives him a dull off-kilter halo
It's bad form to speak ill of the dead (although Ripley would do it with his usual lack of conscience), but Anthony Minghella's 1999 version of the tale starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow was too puffed up and proud of itself to make an effective thriller, despite an impressive cast. It felt staged and lethargic (and that is the last thing a Ripley movie should be), whereas Clément is a witty, nimble director who will never let any cruel irony go unexploited.
Highsmith wrote five "Ripley's"—called "The Ripliad," only three of them have been made into films, two of them twice—and four other men have played Ripley besides Delon. Dennis Hopper played him in Wim Wenders' The American Friend (adapted from "Ripley's Game"), Matt Damon in the Minghella film, John Malkovich in the second Ripley's Game adaptation, and Barry Pepper in Ripley Under Ground.
Highsmith died in 1995 of leukemia (not foul play).