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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Bon Voyage

Purple Noon

Plot Overview

Purple Noon” was originally titled “Plein Soleil” in French, meaning bright sun­shine … as opposed to en plein obscurité: in complete darkness. The Brazilian title was: “O Sol Como Testemunha” (The Sun as Witness). What it's getting at seems to be a foul deed, a murder committed on the high seas where there weren't any witnesses, and the weighted body gets dumped over­board. Who would know?

An American young man named Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) is sent to Rome by the father of another young man Philippe Green­leaf (Maurice Ronet) to fetch him home, but he doesn't want to come, in which case Tom will not get paid. They were child­hood friends, but Philippe's dad had disapproved of his son's lower class liaison with Tom. In Rome they continue their childish pranks, Philippe putting on dark shades and carrying a cane as if he were blind, when really he could see perfectly well.

In fact all the senses will be engaged in deception. Philippe subjects Tom to “a little taste of exile” by tricking him into a towed dinghy in order to afford Philippe some privacy with his fiancée Marge Duval (Marie Laforêt). Later after Marge disembarked (“Ou Allez vous, Marge?”), Tom will kill Philippe and then gorge him­self on some fresh fruit as if all is well. When Tom dispatches Philippe's nosey friend Freddy Miles (Bill Kearns), he'll follow it by feasting on some chicken. And when eventually he's clearly pulled the wool over the eyes of even Marge, he'll sup a congratulatory drink.

The Italian polizia officer Riccordi (Erno Crisa) keeps coming back to Tom (“Presto, por favor”) and tells him, “The nose knows. We're like blood­hounds.” Unfortu­nately, he can't be arrested, let alone tried just because some­thing smells fishy.

To keep up the illusion for a time that Philippe is still alive (“Marge, il n'est pas ici”), Tom impersonates his voice on the phone calling Marge. Later Tom will get his own ruse of a call (“Telephono.”)

Hotei statuette The tactile sense of touch doesn't get neglected either. There's the sunburn Tom suffered on the Dinghy to gain Marge's sympathy (Marge: “Je désolée. Compris?”) There's the woman's jewelry that Tom planted in the pocket of Philippe's garment, which seemed oh, so incriminating when held in Marge's hand (“Je ne comprends pas.”) Tom gets the feel of a fisher­man's knife before plunging it into a surprised Philippe, this partly in response, one might think, to the condes­cending manner in which the latter had instructed the former how to hold a table knife to appear successful. Tom like­wise tests the heft of a statuette of Hotei—Japanese god of content­ment & happi­ness—before braining Freddy with it. Tom's picture pasted into the pass­port of Philippe is nicely embossed so it even feels real. Tom went all out to mount his deception, living up to the title of the book this movie is based on: The Talented M. Ripley.


Tom Ripley is a study in sociopathic behavior but one shouldn't let that distract him from the love affair between Marge and Philippe, which is poetry on the order of great literature, namely the Song of Solomon. Tom named his yacht Marge who for her part was hotly jealous upon discovery of the woman's jewelry, cf. Song 8:6. Philippe's dying words were a cry out to Marge to whom he was bound as with a cord, putting a mockery to the fake will Tom composed in Philippe's name bequeathing her his entire estate (with the thought of Tom coming to enjoy it him­self), (Song 8:7) “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”

Production Values

“Purple Noon” (1960) was directed by René Clément who along with Paul Gégauff did the adaptation and dialogue, based on the book The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia High­smith (née in TX). Tom Ripley was the anti-hero in five of her novels generating at least twenty adaptations into films (of various quality.) Perhaps High­smith's best known novel-to-film adaptation would be Hitchcock's “Strangers on a Train.”

“Purple” stars Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, and Marie Laforêt who really held their own, although in mannerisms and demeanor their American characters seemed French—forgiv­able in a French film. The plane revving its engines and taking off to start the film was nicely completed in the mechanics of the end forming an arc. The pictur­esque Italian cities by the sea appeared like still life in the capable cinema­tog­raphy of Henri Decaë. The musical score builds tension by an incomplete­ness leaving one wanting another chord. Is there some­thing the talented Mr. Ripley hasn't thought of? The interior of the boat was a set. Everything else was real. The storm at sea was a fortuitous accident.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

This movie was a complex integration of a spoiled rich man carrying out pranks with a less fortunate child­hood friend, one prank getting out of hand, the latter played for sympathy except he's got no qualms against murder, the former seemingly taking advantage of his girl whom in fact he loves. The tensions are nicely balanced, and the film doesn't drag on too long, leaving the dark crime consumer eminently satisfied.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.