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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Plein Soleil (aka Purple Noon) (1960)

Sent by the father of an acquaintance (Maurice Ronet) to persuade his son to return home to San Francisco, a young man (Alain Delon) becomes seduced by the hedonistic lifestyle of his friend. Eventually, his identification with the wealthy playboy becomes fatal. Based on the novel THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY by Patricia Highsmith (and filmed again in 1999 under that title), Rene Clement's film is a fascinating portrait of a psychopath. In perhaps his best screen performance, Delon, in his star making role, is perfectly cast as the amoral and narcissistic sociopath. When Delon kisses himself in the mirror, it seems perfectly and frighteningly natural. There has been some criticism of the compromised ending which is different from Highsmith's novel which is considered a sop to the moralists but I like the symmetry it brings to the film. Henri Decae (THE 400 BLOWS) makes the most of the lush Italian locations but Nino Rota's underscore is rather pedestrian. With Marie Laforet, Billy Kearns, Frank Latimore and Romy Schneider.

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