Monday, October 8, 2012

Ripley Redux: "Purple Noon" (1961)

This film came out almost forty years before Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley," but age has not worn down its value.

The basic plot is the same: Tom Ripley must convince Phillipe Greenleaf to return home to the U.S. Ripley eventually kills Greenleaf and assumes his identity, living the life he always felt he deserved.

Rene Clement's direction has tons of Hitchcockian overtones. The location shooting is just as impressive as the 1990's version. Both films do a lot with mirrors in different scenes, some enterprising film studies student could do a term paper on that. Delon's Tom Ripley is very suave and debonair, unlike Damon's characterization. Any homosexual element has been removed, with Tom's motivation for murder being his love for Marge. Oddly enough, Delon looks like "TMR"'s Jude Law more than anyone else.

I wish this film had thrown caution to the wind, however, and really broke loose from censorous chains. I felt the film makers did not have the same liberties the "TMR" film makers had, and the film sometimes comes off as a little unfeeling and withdrawn. The final ironic end is a hilarious shocker.

Combined, "Purple Noon" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" would be one great film. I recommend "Purple Noon." (* * * *) out of five stars.