Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt, Erno Crisa, Frank Latimore, Billy Kearns, Ave Ninchi, Viviane Chantel, Nerio Bernardi, Barbel Fanger, Lily Romanelli, Nicolas Petrov, Elvire Popesco
Written by: René Clément, Paul Gégauff, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith
Directed by: René Clément
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for momentary violence and sexuality
Language: French, Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 118
Date: 03/10/1960
IMDB

Purple Noon (1960)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Wry 'Noon'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Patricia Highsmith was lucky. Her first book, Strangers on a Train was made into a successful and highly regarded film by Alfred Hitchcock. And French film critics -- who adored Hitchcock far more than we did at that time -- began looking out for more works from the woman who inspired The Master. One of the resulting films was Rene Clement's Purple Noon (1960).

Based on Highsmith's 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon focuses on a handsome and charismatic but somehow average and amoral young man named Ripley (played beautifully by Alain Delon) who concocts a scheme to murder his wealthy companion and assume his identity. His general blandness allows him to fit in, and his skill for forgery helps.

The film does a magnificent job of implying eroticism and homoeroticism without showing it flat out (as in Anthony Minghella's dull remake), and uses its bold colors and Italian locations to gorgeous effect. The sinister occurs within the confines of the beautiful, like a disease eating away a beautiful tree from the inside.

Purple Noon was a critical hit and was re-released by Martin Scorsese in 1996. Miramax's original DVD release skimped on extras, but now the Criterion Collection has given the film a brand-new DVD and Blu-ray release for 2012.

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