An adaptation of Patricia Highstreet’s lauded novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley," Rene Clement’s "Purple Noon" introduced us to one of the 20th centuries greatest gifts: Alain Delon. The unnervingly handsome French superstar got the role of a lifetime in Tom Ripley; the character’s slyly internal thought-process letting this seminal performance coast along on looks and glances (trust me, it works.)
Having been sent from America to Italy to retrieve a businessman’s carefree son for $5,000, he chooses instead to aim for the bigger payday: killing the son, ditching his girlfriend, and stealing his identity; Delon roams the waterside living the life of an heir (for those wondering, this version of the story, unlike the 1999 Matt Damon adaptation, does away with much of the sexual overtones between Tom and the man he’s out to bring home.)
Criterion’s restoration of this sexy thriller is top shelf; offering grainy detail (full of contrast) in every shot. The Italian coasts truly "pop;" the color palette and compositions are full of luscious greens and blues. Unfortunately for some, their extras selection here - archival interviews with Delon and Highstreet, along with a newly curated interview with Clement - is much lighter than what we’re use to from them.
Still, what’s there is worthwhile: the interview with Clement is lively, packed with Delon-details, and a great intro for those, like me, who are being introduced to him via "Noon" (it also, obviously, doesn’t hurt to get a little extra classic footage of Delon.) A delectable genre re-discovery from Criterion; "Purple Noon" is a European time capsule, an incredibly seductive mystery, and a hell of a good time.