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Purple Noon

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Purple Noon
French theatrical release poster
FrenchPlein soleil
Directed byRené Clément
Screenplay by
Based onThe Talented Mr. Ripley
1955 novel
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 dates
  • 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 starring Alain Delon (in his first major role), alongside Marie Laforêt and Maurice Ronet; Romy Schneider, Delon's girlfriend at the time, makes a brief cameo appearance in the film. Directed by René Clément, the French/Italian international co-production is loosely based on the 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. The majority of the film's dialogue is spoken in French, although there are brief sequences in Italian and English.

Anthony Minghella's 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley and the 2024 streaming television series Ripley are adaptations of the same source novel.


Handsome young American Tom Ripley has been sent to Italy by the father of wealthy playboy Philippe Greenleaf to persuade him to return to San Francisco and take over the family business. Philippe has no intention of doing so, and the impoverished Tom falls into sharing in his escapades.

Tom becomes fixated on Philippe and his fiancée, Marge, and covets the other man's life of luxury and leisure in the beautiful seaside town of Mongibello. Philippe eventually grows bored with Ripley's fawning and becomes cruel and abusive to him. The final straw for Tom is reached during a yachting trip when Philippe strands him in the dinghy and accidentally leaves him to drift for hours in the blazing sun.

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. Finding that Tom has pilfered his banking records, Philippe seeks to draw him out. After Marge goes ashore following a blow-up with Philippe, he confronts Tom, who admits his plan quite casually. Philippe offers Tom a substantial sum to leave him and Marge alone, but Tom rebuffs it, saying he is interested in far more. He fatally stabs Philippe, weights his body with an anchor, and wraps it in canvas, and he is preparing to dump it overboard when he is hit by the ship's boom and knocked in the sea, taking Philippe's corpse with him. Tom narrowly manages to make it back onto the ship.

Upon returning to Mongibello alone, Tom informs Marge that Philippe has decided to stay away. He then goes to Rome, skillfully replaces Philippe's picture with his own in Philippe's passport, masters forging Philippe's signature, and successfully takes over the dead man's wealth, identity, and lifestyle.

When Philippe's friend Freddy Miles tracks down "Philippe's" hideaway, he is surprised to only find Tom there. Feeling he is beginning to suspect the truth, Tom impulsively murders him. Freddy's body is soon found, and the Italian police become involved. Tom continues his charade, switching like a chameleon between his own identity and Philippe's to give the illusion that Philippe is still alive and implicate him in Freddy's murder.

Tom survives a long string of close shaves, throwing the Italian police off his trail and seemingly outwitting everyone. After forging Philippe's suicide note and a will that leaves Philippe's entire fortune to Marge, Tom thinks he is finally in the clear. He then seduces Marge, dallying with her in Philippe's home.

Philippe's father arrives in Mongibello to settle the transfer of Philippe's estate and the sale of his yacht. Marge leaves Tom at the beach to go meet Mr. Greenleaf, while Tom goes to a seaside cafe and celebrates the success of his gambit by ordering the best drink in the house. As Philippe's boat is being pulled out of the water so a potential buyer can inspect it, Marge is horrified to see Philippe's canvas-wrapped body dragged up the slipway behind it, the loose end of the lashing having become wrapped around the sailboat's propeller. A police inspector from Rome who has been watching Tom jumps into action and goes to the cafe, where he has the waitress tell Tom, who is lounging in the sun, that there is a phone call for him. Tom smirks smugly and, unsuspecting, walks into a trap.


Alain Delon (as Tom Ripley) and Marie Laforêt (as Marge Duval) in August 1959 during production of the film in Italy.

Director Clément has an uncredited cameo appearance in the film as a clumsy waiter, and Romy Schneider, who was Delon's girlfriend when the film was made, has an uncredited cameo appearance as one of Freddy's female companions in the film's opening scene.


Delon was cast after Clément saw him in Women Are Weak (1959).[3] Billy Kearns was an expatriate American actor well-liked in France.[4]

Screenwriter Paul Gégauff wrote a variation on the same story in 1968 when he worked on Les biches with Claude Chabrol.


Purple Noon was lauded by critics and made Delon a star.[5] In 1962, Clément and Gégauff won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Foreign Film Screenplay.[6] The film enjoys a loyal cult following even today, with fans including film director Martin Scorsese.[7]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars (compared to the four-star review he gave to 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley[8]), writing that "the best thing about the film is the way the plot devises a way for Ripley to create a perfect cover-up", while criticizing the "less than satisfactory ending", about which he wrote: "Purple Noon ends as it does only because Clement doesn't have Highsmith's iron nerve".[9]

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).[10] Berardinelli praised Delon's acting, writing that "Tom is fascinating because Delon makes him so", and also complimented the film for "expert camerawork and crisp direction."[11] In the entry for Purple Noon on Berardinelli's All-Time Top 100 list, he compared it to the 1999 film, saying: "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."[12]

Nandini Ramnath, writing for Scroll.in, said: "The definitive portrayal of crime novelist Patricia Highsmith's most enduring creation was as early as 1960. Damon and Hopper[a] come close to conveying the ruthlessness and ambition of Tom Ripley, but Delon effortlessly captures his mystique."[13]

Highsmith's opinion of the film was mixed. She felt that Alain Delon was "excellent" in the role of Tom Ripley[14] and described the film overall as "very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect",[15] 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."[15]

The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa cited Purple Noon as one of his 100 favorite films.[16]

Restoration and re-release[edit]

In 2012, StudioCanal funded a restoration of the film by the Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, to be shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival as part of an homage to Delon's career prior to a theatrical re-release in (at least) France.[17][18]

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, and a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey O'Brien and excerpts from a 1981 interview with Clément.[19] The film has also been released on Blu-ray in the UK and Germany (by StudioCanal in 2013), and Japan (by Kinokuniya in 2011).


  1. ^ Dennis Hopper portrayed Tom Ripley in Wim Wenders' 1977 film The American Friend.


  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. ^ "New Dream for Alain Delon", Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times, 18 December 1965, p. a12.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Bill Kearns, 69, Actor Seen in French Films", The New York Times, 4 December 1992
  5. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1996-06-28). "'Noon' Reemerges as a Compelling, Suspenseful Classic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2024-03-15.
  6. ^ "Category List – Best Foreign film". Edgar Awards Info & Database. Retrieved 2024-03-15.
  7. ^ Sandor, Samuel (2022-09-05). "Alain Delon's 'Purple Noon': The Half-Forgotten French Precursor to 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' Starring Matt Damon & Jude Law - Hollywood Insider". Retrieved 2024-03-15.
  8. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  9. ^ "Purple Noon, rogerebert.com Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  10. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley – A Film Review by James Berardinelli"
  11. ^ "Purple Noon (Plein Soleil) – A Film Review by James Berardinelli".
  12. ^ "James Berardinelli Top 100: #86: Purple Noon". ReelViews.net. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  13. ^ Nandini Ramnath (3 July 2016). "Five-star cinema: René Clément's Plein Soleil". Scroll.in. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  14. ^ Interview with Patricia Highsmith Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine by Gerald Peary
  15. ^ a b Wilson, Andrew (2003-05-24). "Ripley's enduring allure". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  16. ^ Thomas-Mason, Lee (12 January 2021). "From Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese: Akira Kurosawa once named his top 100 favourite films of all time". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  17. ^ "Cannes va rendre hommage à Delon". Le Figaro (in French). 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  18. ^ "Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  19. ^ Purple Noon, The Criterion Collection

External links[edit]