Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon put French actor Alain Delon on the international map. Only 24 years old when Purple Noon was released, Delon earned the endorsement of Ms. Highsmith herself for his performance as the smooth and wily young con artist whose petty crimes and deceptions graduate to multiple murders over the course of the film.
“It’s insidious, the way Highsmith seduces us into identifying with him and sharing his selfishness,” Roger Ebert wrote of both the novel and this cinematic adaptation in his 1996 review. “Ripley believes that getting his own way is worth whatever price anyone else might have to pay. We all have a little of that in us.” Continue reading
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, petty thief and killer on the run
Paris, August 1959
(French title: À bout de souffle)
Release Date: March 16, 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard from an original treatment by François Truffaut, À bout de souffle (or Breathless to us Americans) marked a defining moment in the evolution of French New Wave cinema. The lanky, youthful, and energetic Jean-Paul Belmondo shot to cinematic stardom as he became the new face of French New Wave, a term to which he charmingly admitted his own ignorance to P.E. Schneider of New York Times Magazine.
In that 1961 piece, Schneider was profiling Belmondo for a piece called “A Punk With Charm,” referring to the actor’s role in Breathless as the Bogart-idolizing Michel Poiccard, a swaggering and sociopathic walking id. Continue reading