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I saw this before I read the Patricia Highsmith mystery novel from which it was adapted, and before seeing the recent and excellent The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. Here the accomplished French director René Clément has Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Marie Laforêt as his stars in this very fine interpretation. Seeing it again only confirms my high opinion.

The fact that "Purple Noon" plays well after forty years is a testament to Clément's clean, objective direction and his faithful adherence to the Hitchcock formula. Pretty poor boy goes after everything pretty rich boy has, including his yacht and his girl friend in this tightly focused thriller. We see once again--cf., Polanski's Knife in the Water (1962) and the early Nicole Kidman vehicle Dead Calm (1989)--that some very bad things can happen when you get two men and one woman on a yacht in the middle of a whole lot of water. Note too the Mediterranean rock island atmosphere reminiscent of Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960). It will probably get me into trouble with Italian film aficionados to add that it's a little surprising that both films are from the same year, inasmuch as Plein Soleil is still a treat to watch, while L'Avventura seems terribly dated. Perhaps the beautiful use of color and the charming locales and interiors so well done by Clément make the difference.

Delon is a particularly "pretty" and uncomplicated Tom Ripley, while Ronet is a somewhat nasty and macho Philippe ("Dickie" in the novel) Greenleaf, and Laforêt is a very sensual and sexy Marge. All do a good job and are well directed by Clément whose attention to detail in all aspects of the production is admirable. The fish market scene and the scene where Ripley projects Philippe's signature on the wall in order to practice it, and especially the cold, windy feel of being aboard the yacht work very well and keep us engaged.

Comparing the Minghella film, I would say it owes something to Plein Soleil (e.g., the jazz motif, the real love between Marge and Philippe) but is essentially a different spin. Perhaps the most important difference is that there is no sexual ambiguity to Ripley's character in this film as there was in both the novel and Minghella's production. Clément plays it straight throughout also eschewing any sort of psychological study of Ripley's murderous nature. He even deviates from Highsmith's daring (at the time) resolution for something more traditional. Nonetheless the very clever ending is beautifully ironic and will give you a surprising jolt.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
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on September 17, 2003
I discovered Plein Soleil in France while living in Paris and since it had a four star rating (out of four) in the TV review, I decided to tape it, and have not regretted it since. I have seen the film four times and simply never get tired of it.
My friends and family were disappointed in the American Ripley film version and I really wanted them to see this, the original film. However, I was not willing to translate every single line from French into English (irritating for all involved... defeats the purpose...) and I could not find a copy of the movie with subtitles.
Then I found that Plein Soleil existed under the title "Purple Noon" in English and was overjoyed. As the other reviewers have already noted, the cinematography is superb, and, Alain Delon, pretty boy or not, is sublime. (And I was not a fan of his- quite the contrary- before seeing this film). The twist and sense of poetic justice at the end was far more gratifying than the Talented Mr. Ripley.
To me this is a PERFECT MOVIE. Just to give you a sense of my taste, other "perfect films" in my book are "Cyrano de Bergerac" (version with Gerard Depardieu), "Goodfellas", and "Rocco et I suoi fratelli" (Viscomti- an Italian drama also starring a young Alain Delon).
Call it Plein Soleil or Purple Noon- what you get is style, suspense, finesse, and French class.
An American formerly in Paris
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on February 24, 2001
Who in their right mind would even consider big toothed childlike Matt Damon in the role of the classic beautiful Alain Delon? Please lets be real for a moment and not go off into the bizzare and just stick to this original version. The filming, the acting, the direction, untouchable and superior. The lesson here is don't attempt to touch a classic, it will always be viewed as second rate.
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on November 6, 2000
No matter how powerful a sunscreen you wear, you'll still be scorched by the pernicious heat of Purple Noon. This sunbaked French thriller, originally released in 1960 and now reissued under Martin Scorsese's imprimatur, is an elegant tale of murder on the French Riviera.
Delon, looking as languidly sleek and dangerous as a panther at rest, portrays an amoral young man who knocks off a playboy pal (Maurice Ronet) and then coolly takes possession of the dead man's name, bank account and, eventually, fiancée (Marie Laforêt). As directed by René Clément (Forbidden Games), it's all très smart, sexy and suspenseful, and Delon, well, let's just say he is one mighty cute croissant.
Yes, The Talented Mr. Ripley as it should be.
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VINE VOICEon July 29, 2006
Patricia Highsmith's THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY might be the finest American suspense thriller ever written. A clever young man from a disadvantaged background is sent abroad by an industrialist to bring home the latter's spoiled and vicious son; befriending the young rotter in Italy, the antihero becomes enamored of his decadent lifestyle and kills him so he can assume his identity. The novel is not only suspenseful but it forms a brilliant disquisition on the nature of identity at mid-century, and its relationship to texts, reputation, and capital. Two very intelligent films have been made from it that capture different parts of it successfully: the latest is Anthony Minghella's 1999 big-budget Hollywood thriller starring Matt Damon, but the first was this beautifully photographed French version directed by Rene Clement starring Alain Delon as Ripley.

Clement's version succeeds best in its evocation of the lovely rarefied atmosphere of the tourist Italy of the American jetset: the cinematography has a crystalline postcard beauty that makes Rome and the Italian coast seem supernatually beautiful. It also has a much better Ripley in Delon than Minghella had in Damon: Delon is much less hesitant and much more desperate and amoral, and he also has the requisite handsomeness (and facial resemblance to the rich wastrel he murders and replaces) that Damon lacks. As the gorgeous, cruel Dickie Greenleaf (here called Phillipe), Maurice Ronet is absolutely first-rate, toying with Ripley in the mistaken belief that he holds all the cards in their friendship. Less successful as Phillipe's emotionally abused girlfriend Marge is Marie Leforet, who doesn't seem to react to Phillipe at all as an American girl would ever conceiveably do. The film is great at conveying an aura of homoerotic decadence, but it loses quite a bit by beginning the story in medias res: by not showing us the circumstances from which Ripley came, we have little sense at what is at stake in his masquerade. But this is this fine adaptation's only major shortcoming.
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on January 24, 2002
Many comparisons can be made between "Plein Soleil"(better translated as "Broad Daylight" than "Purple Noon") and "The Talented Mr. Ripley". They are both good films, with incredibly intriguing story lines and fine performances. The cinematography in both films is superb as well. The more recent version does look better, technically, but the Clement film is very pleasing to the eye, not just for the scenery, but for the incredible beauty of the young Alain Delon.
This is not really a 'great' film--it's really just about the intrigue, and it fascinates the viewer by forcing identification with a nefarious protagonist--but it is mighty entertaining.
The Miramax DVD is something of a disappointment. Apart from some flashing in several scenes, the film transfer looks mostly very good. There is some distortion in the mono soundtrack, which unfortunately mars Rota's lovely score. Yet, there is at least one moment when everything works together beautifully: for instance the non-dialogue scene where Tom Ripley looks over an outdoor fish market in Naples--the colors, Delon's face and the music combine for five minutes of cinematic magic.
The DVD is also a letdown in terms of features: there are three skimpy trailers, NOT including one for "Plein Soleil". The English subtitles must be turned on, they are not automatic, AND the French-language soundtrack must be selected from the setup menu, otherwise the disc defaults to the inferior English-dubbed version.
Still worth having for an enjoyable movie
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VINE VOICEon March 10, 2014
For years, I had to make do with the old DVD of this film Purple Noon. The picture quality was decent but not impressive - also it was plain, with no extras. Now, years later, Criterion has finally come out with a new and restored Purple Noon DVD.

I don't have a Blu-ray player, so my review is based on the new DVD release. While the overall quality is better, there are a few scenes where I didn't see that much of a difference between the old and new DVDs. The best restored scenes, in my opinion, are those taking place in the ocean and on the boat. Here, the pictures are crisp and the photography is beautiful. In other indoor scenes (i.e., the hotel, interrogation with the policeman), this 1960s film still looks a little faded. I've seen better restorations by Criterion, and I'm a little disappointed that it's not that much of a jump in quality. Maybe a better negative wasn't available. As a contrast, I looked at Charade (1963) with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and Criterion did an excellent job with that film Charade (The Criterion Collection)

Despite this, I'm glad I purchased this DVD. It comes with the original trailer and vintage interviews with Alain Delon and Patricia Highsmith, both in French.
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on January 31, 2002
No problems with the film itself, I saw the theatrical release several years ago, and loved it. I refuse to buy the lame excuse for a DVD that Buena Vista has offered. When will the message get through? Serious films need the serious treatment on disc, especially if we are going to be gouged with Disney prices. The absence of anamorphic enhancement on this film is close to criminal in my eyes, and the rest of the shoddy package, right down to the boilerplate on the case, is an insult. Criterion did a Laser Disc of this film, and this DVD needs the Criterion treatment. Tell me I'm having a bad dream!!
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on December 24, 1999
the movie is just brilliant. Its loosely based on on the novel but is a classic in its own right. cool performance by Alain Delon who is perfect as Tom Ripley. Cold, confident, and calculating. One of the best films of the suspense genre. sumptuously shot with beautiful music by the guy who did 'La Dolce Vita.' One of the best films i've ever seen. Perfect example of french film noir of the sixties. Also, Alain Delon is the best-looking actor ever.
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on July 10, 2013
This earlier treatment is definitely European in its sensibilities and its movie making technique. In the beginning it glosses over exposition the Hollywood version covered in depth (like Ripley having been hired by the father to get his son to come home). The homo- erotic aspect is more subtle and less of a feature. Still, the film might be even better than the Hollywood. Plenty of tension with the three of them on the boat. Alain Delon is excellent as Ripley, and really good acting all around. A memorable, gripping film.
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