But yesterday I drove over a 100 miles to Warwick Arts Centre to attend a screening of Plein Soleil (1960)a French film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr Ripley. Highsmith commented that Plein Soleil was "very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect", although she took issue with the ending.
Adapted and directed by René Clément, Tom Ripley is played by Alain Delon. The screening of this film was in the context of a talk by Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson on fashion and film criminals entitled 'If Looks could Kill'.
Alain Delon is pure evil in the film but equally he is pure male beauty. It is a stark contrast to Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) as Tom Ripley is extremely cold and also the most beautiful person on screen, compared to Minghella's where Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Dickie (Jude Law) are the eye candy.
The talk focused on the typical cinema criminal most notably the gangster and their appropriation of the suit, how a gangster is obvious with their flamboyant use of dress and the vanity associated with dress. The gangster always admires himself in the mirror and will always see his tailor upon release from jail before his 'gal'. The narcissistic quality of dress is integral to Plein Soleil and Alain Delon's portrayal of Tom Ripley, being a French film you can imaging the quality of the style right down to the very Italian Riviera white leather Gucci loafers which are so soft and delectable you can almost feel their quality from the screen. The cinematography and colour is outstanding in this film
Highsmith was disappointed with the film's ending, calling it "a terrible concession to so-called public morality." However Clement had constructed such a cold, evil, narcissistic and beautiful Ripley in Plein Soleil it seemed the creator needed to reign him in.