Purple Noon

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Purple Noon
Purple Noon Poster.jpg
French theatrical release poster
FrenchPlein soleil
Directed byRené Clément
Screenplay by
Based onThe Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith
Produced by
CinematographyHenri Decaë
Edited byFrançoise Javet
Music byNino Rota
  • Robert et Raymond Hakim
  • Paris Film
  • Paritalia
  • Titanus
Distributed by
  • CCFC (France)
  • Titanus (Italy)
Release date
  • 10 March 1960 (1960-03-10) (France)
  • 2 September 1960 (1960-09-02) (Italy)
Running time
115 minutes
  • France
  • Italy
Box office$618,090
2,437,874 admissions (France)[1]

Purple Noon (French: Plein soleil; Italian: Delitto in pieno sole; also known as Full Sun, Blazing Sun, Lust for Evil, and Talented Mr. Ripley)[2] is a 1960 crime thriller film directed by René Clément, loosely based on the 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. The film stars Alain Delon in his first major film, along with Maurice Ronet (as Philippe Greenleaf) and Marie Laforêt (as Marge); Billy Kearns (an expatriate American actor well-liked in France)[3] plays Greenleaf's friend Freddy Miles, and Romy Schneider appears briefly in an uncredited role as Freddie Miles' companion. The film, principally in French, contains brief sequences in Italian.

Screenwriter Paul Gégauff wrote a variation on the same story in 1968 when he worked on Les biches for Claude Chabrol. Highsmith's source novel was adapted again in 1999 under the original title, The Talented Mr. Ripley.


The American Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) has been sent to Italy to persuade the wealthy Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) to return to San Francisco and take over his father's business. Philippe intends to do no such thing and the impoverished Tom enjoys living a life of luxury, so the two men essentially spend money all day and carouse all night. Tom is fixated on Philippe and his girlfriend, Marge (Marie Laforêt), and covets the other man's life. Philippe eventually grows bored with Ripley's fawning and becomes cruel and abusive to him. The final straw is when, during a yachting trip, Philippe strands Tom in the dinghy and leaves him to lie in the sun for hours.

Back on board, Tom hatches a plan to kill Philippe and steal his identity. First, he leaves evidence of Philippe's philandering for an outraged Marge to find. After Marge goes ashore, Philippe confronts Tom, who admits his plan quite casually. Philippe, believing it to be a joke, plays along and asks Tom for the plan's details. Suddenly frightened, Philippe offers Tom a substantial sum to leave him and Marge alone, but Tom states that he can obtain this sum anyway and far more. At last, pretending to accept his offer, Tom stabs Philippe as the latter screams Marge's name. He casts the body overboard and returns to port.

Upon returning to shore, Tom informs Marge that Philippe has decided to stay behind. He then goes travelling around Italy using Philippe's name and bank account, flawlessly mimicking his voice and mannerisms; in effect, Tom has become Philippe, even affixing his own photo, with seal, in Philippe's passport. He rents a large suite in a Rome hotel.

When Philippe's friend, Freddie Miles (Billy Kearns), comes to the hotel to see Philippe and begins to suspect the truth, Tom murders him as well. Freddie's body is soon found and the Italian police become involved. Tom continues his charade, switching between his identity and Philippe's, depending on what the situation demands. After carrying out an elaborate scheme to implicate Philippe in Freddie's murder, Tom forges a suicide note and a will, leaving the Greenleaf fortune to Marge.

Tom survives a long string of close shaves, throwing the Italian police off his trail and seemingly having outwitted everyone. He even succeeds in seducing Marge, with whom he begins openly cohabiting. When Philippe's yacht is being pulled out of the water for inspection by a buyer, his canvas-wrapped body is found attached to the boat because the anchor cable it was wrapped in had become tangled around the propeller. The film ends with Tom being unknowingly called toward the police.



Delon was cast after the director saw him in Women Are Weak (1959).[4]


Purple Noon was lauded by critics, and made Delon a star. In 1962, Clément and Paul Gégauff won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Foreign Film Screenplay.[citation needed] It enjoys a loyal cult following even today, with fans including film director Martin Scorsese.[citation needed]

Roger Ebert gave Purple Noon three stars (compared to the four-star review he gave to the 1999 version[5]), writing that "the best thing about the film is the way the plot devises a way for Ripley to create a perfect cover-up", but criticized the "less than satisfactory ending", feeling that "Purple Noon ends as it does only because Clement doesn't have Highsmith's iron nerve".[6]

James Berardinelli rated Purple Noon higher than The Talented Mr. Ripley, giving it a four-star review (compared to two and a half stars for The Talented Mr. Ripley).[7] Berardinelli praised Delon's acting, saying that "Tom is fascinating because Delon makes him so" and also complimented the film for "expert camerawork and crisp direction."[8] Berardinelli placed Purple Noon on his All-Time 100 list and compared it to the 1999 film: "The remake went back to the source material, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. The result, while arguably truer to the events of Highsmith's book, is vastly inferior. To say it suffers by comparison to Purple Noon is an understatement. Almost every aspect of Rene Clement's 1960 motion picture is superior to that of Minghella's 1999 version, from the cinematography to the acting to the screenplay. Matt Damon might make a credible Tom Ripley but only for those who never experienced Alain Delon's portrayal."[9] Nandini Ramnath wrote for Scroll.in, "The definitive portrayal of crime novelist Patricia Highsmith's most enduring creation was as early as 1960. Damon and Hopper come close to conveying the ruthlessness and ambition of Tom Ripley, but Delon effortless captures his mystique."[10]

Highsmith's opinion of the film was mixed. She felt that Alain Delon was "excellent" in the role of Tom Ripley[11] and described the film overall as "very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect",[12] but criticized the ending in which it is implied that Ripley is to be caught by the police: "[I]t was a terrible concession to so-called public morality that the criminal had to be caught."[12]

Restoration and re-release[edit]

In 2012 StudioCanal funded a restoration of the movie by the Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, a restoration being all the more warranted as part of the film's atmosphere is due to the sun-drenched scenes mentioned in the film's original title. The restored version was to be shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival as part of an homage to Delon's career, prior to re-release in France at least.[13][14]

On 4 December 2012, The Criterion Collection released the high-definition digital restoration of Purple Noon on Blu-ray and DVD. Special features include an interview with René Clément scholar and author Denitza Bantcheva, archival interviews with Alain Delon and Patricia Highsmith, the film's original English-language trailer, a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey O'Brien and excerpts from a 1981 interview with Clément.[15] The film has also been released on Blu-ray in the UK and Germany (Studiocanal, 2013), and Japan (Kinokuniya, 2011).


  1. ^ Box office information for film at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Maurice Bessy (1992). Maurice Bessy; Raymond Chirat; André Bernard (eds.). Histoire du Cinéma Français 1956–1960. Pygmalion. ISBN 978-2857043799.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Bill Kearns, 69, Actor Seen in French Films", The New York Times, 4 December 1992
  4. ^ "New Dream for Alain Delon", Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times, 18 December 1965, p. a12.
  5. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  6. ^ "Purple Noon, rogerebert.com Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  7. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley – A Film Review by James Berardinelli"
  8. ^ "Purple Noon (Plein Soleil) – A Film Review by James Berardinelli".
  9. ^ "James Berardinelli Top 100: #86: Purple Noon". ReelViews.net. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  10. ^ Nandini Ramnath (3 July 2016). "Five-star cinema: René Clément's Plein Soleil". Scroll.in. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  11. ^ Interview with Patricia Highsmith Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine by Gerald Peary
  12. ^ a b Wilson, Andrew (2003-05-24). "Ripley's enduring allure". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  13. ^ "Cannes va rendre hommage à Delon". Le Figaro (in French). 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  14. ^ "Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  15. ^ Purple Noon, The Criterion Collection

External links[edit]