Film Scouts Reviews

"Purple Noon"

by Karen Jaehne

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To see this re-release of a 1959 French classic is to understand: this is how Alain Delon became an enormous star - and why he deserved it. Delon starts out as the secondary character, the best friend of Greenleaf, and as such, he's interesting and attractive in a winsome way. But when he knocks off his buddy and takes over the film, he's rivetting. You can sense the sweat on his back whenever he's in a tight spot. And you can't help but want him to get away with murder. To that degree, Alain Delon is more faithful to the novel than the filmmakers themselves, since his character, Ripley, came back in other films made from the novels Highsmith wrote about him.

"Purple Noon" or "High Noon" in French, is set among the chic, expatriate jet set on the Amalfi Coast, which the great French cinematographer Henri Decae brings to life as an unforgettable ambience of palm-potty hotel life, yachting to Taormina, beautiful women in every port, deep tans, deeper pockets, elegant loafers and no socks. Yes, F. Scott, the rich are different, and Tom likes those differences.

Tom's been sent by his pal Greenleaf's father to fetch the Greenleaf fils home to San Francisco. When it becomes clear he will fail, Tom ups the ante and decides to replace Greenleaf rather than give up the lifestyle. Unfortunately, it leaves him slightly schizophrenic, and eventually he gets trapped between his dual lives. It's a thin premise - happily pumped up by good acting and characters that are fun to watch.

This was the dolce vita before Fellini exposed it for its facile emptiness. It looks better on Alain Delon than on Marcello Mastroianni. In fact, it looks like a helluvalotta fun - so thank you, Miramax Zoe and Marty Scorsese, for bringing back the high life!

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