A film I discovered at the Pacific Cinematheque last year has haunted me ever since. Purple Noon (1960), directed by René Clément, is a lush, colourful adaptation of queer author Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 crime thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Purple Noon (1960) sizzles with an understated homoerotic subtext at a time when being overtly gay landed you in jail. The film is notable both for its delicious cinematography and for launching the career of French actor, Alain Delon, whose terrible beauty caused international audiences to swoon – of all genders!
The role of Tom Ripley is better known to contemporary audiences from Matt Damon’s 1999 portrayal. However, Alain Delon is mesmerizing as the duplicitous American charmer in Rome on a mission to bring his privileged, devil-may-care acquaintance Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) back to the United States. What initially seems a carefree tale of friendship soon morphs into a thrilling saga of seduction, identity theft, and murder.
Calgary Cinematheque invites everyone to a free screening of Purple Noon at the Central Library this Sunday with a short introductory lecture from the Calgary Gay History Project. Get out of the winter YYC, and escape to a hot Italian summer this Sunday afternoon!