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Film / Purple Noon

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Yo-ho-ho, it's a pirate's life for me

Purple Noon (Plein soleil, "Full Sun") is a 1960 film from France directed by René Clément (later known for Is Paris Burning?). Nino Rota composed the soundtrack.

It is the first adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon in his Star-Making Role) is sent from America to France in order to get his friend, callow rich boy Philippe Greenleaf to stop gallivanting around Europe and come home to work in the family business. Philippe isn't particularly interested in coming back home and going to work, and Tom, who comes from a poor background, finds out he rather likes Philippe's luxurious lifestyle. Soon the both of them are gallivanting around, often in the company of Philippe's attractive girlfriend Marge.

Eventually Philippe grows weary of Tom, his fawning, lower-class companion, and starts to treat him badly. Tom is stung by betrayal from a friend he worships (and may be attracted to). Suddenly the tension erupts in violence.

Compare The Talented Mr. Ripley, a 1999 English-language adaptation of the same book that starred Matt Damon as Tom, Jude Law as Dickie, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge.


  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the book, Ripley gets away with it. In the movie, Philippe's corpse is discovered. Apparently Patricia Highsmith was irritated by this.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Dickie Greenleaf from the novel gets the more French-friendly name Philippe Greenleaf.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits are in a hand-written cartoony style.
  • Asshole Victim: Philippe is a spoiled, self-centered, thoughtless ass.
  • Big "NO!": From Marge when Philippe's corpse is fished up.
  • The Cameo: Romy Schneider, who was dating Alain Delon at the time, pops up in the opening scene as Freddie's companion.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The blonde that Philippe is nuzzling in the opening scene leaves behind an earring that Tom pockets. He later arranges for Marge to find it, to drive a wedge between her and Philippe.
    • A green Fat Buddha statuette is visible in Tom's flat. When Freddie understands that Tom impersonates Philippe and he comes back to the flat, Tom uses it to kill him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Tom's talent at forging signatures, established in the opening scene.
  • Crime After Crime: Tom is forced to murder Freddie, because Freddie has discovered that he impersonates Philippe, so Freddie could understand that Tom killed Philippe.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Tom murders Philippe, then he impersonated him to seize his wealth.
  • Disposing of a Body: Tom has this problem after killing Freddie. He takes the body down the stairs, then into his car and dumps it along the city walls.
  • Creator Cameo: Rene Clement pops up briefly as a servant.
  • Dramatic Irony: Marge receives a letter from Philippe and says "It's so dull or flat, as if he were dead." What Tom and the audience both know is that Philippe is dead, as Tom killed him.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Tom swigs from a bottle after the apparently unplanned murder of Philippe.
  • Love Triangle: In which it's not clear if Tom is more into Philippe or Marge.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Tom murders Philippe, Marge's boyfriend, then he tries to seduce Marge.
  • Never Suicide: Tom forges a note to make it look like Philippe killed himself.
  • Significant Background Event: As Tom is very creepily putting on Philippe's clothes in front of a mirror, pretending to be him, and kissing his reflection, a pair of feet can just barely be seen at the top of the screen. It's Philippe, who watches this weird scene and is not at all pleased.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Tom comes from a poor background. Philippe is a rich boy. Philippe ill-treats Tom. Tom covets Philippe's wealth and girlfriend. Tom murders Philippe. Then, he impersonates him to seize his wealth and he tries to seduce his girlfriend.
  • Translation Convention: Freddie and Tom, both Americans, speak French to each other in the scene where Freddie finds Tom in what's supposed to be Philippe's hotel room. What makes this odder is that Freddie makes a point of speaking one line in English to Tom earlier in the movie. ("So long, chum.")
  • Word Salad Title: In English, anyway. Plein soleil is evocative of the sunny Mediterranean where most of the film is set. Purple Noon is completely random.