A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Purple Noon (René Clément, 1960)

Alain Delon in Purple Noon
Tom Ripley: Alain Delon
Philippe Greenleaf: Maurice Ronet
Marge Duval: Marie Laforêt
Riccordi: Erno Crisa
O'Brien: Frank Latimore
Freddy Miles: Billy Kearns

Director: René Clément
Screenplay: René Clément, Paul Gégauff
Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith
Cinematography: Henri Decaë
Production design: Paul Bertrand
Film editing: Françoise Javet
Music: Nino Rota

The original title of René Clément's Purple Noon, Plein Soleil, which means "full sun," with its implications of something done out in the open, by the light of day, seems to me a better indication of what this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley is all about. And not just because the first part of the film, including Ripley's first murder, takes place under the bright sun of the Mediterranean. Ripley is the perfect embodiment of Hamlet's discovery "that one may smile and smile and be a villain," that someone can be as beautiful as Alain Delon and get away with murder. Henri Decaë's gorgeous color cinematography and the film's handsome settings are sometimes thought to be at odds with the darkness of the story. Even Ripley's shabby room at the Hotel Paradiso has a kind of glamour to it -- though that may just be the nostalgia of someone who recalls staying in places like that during his first visit to the Continent, a copy of (it is to laugh) Europe on $5 a Day in hand. But that kind of dissonance is very much to the point:  Ripley is almost an antihero, or antivillain, if you will. His victims are the abusive Philippe Greenleaf and the snotty Freddy Miles, both of whom scorn Ripley for his lowly origins. Highsmith disliked the film's ending which, although it doesn't quite show Ripley brought to justice at least implies that he's about to be caught. Her novel ends with Ripley in triumph, though edgy and paranoid, and able to con and kill again through four sequels. 

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