Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Alternate Best Actor 1960: Alain Delon in Purple Noon

Alain Delon did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tom Ripley in Purple Noon.

Purple Noon is the effective original cinematic adaptation of the Talented Mister Ripley, about a man who seems to befriend a wealthy man in order to get a reward offered to him by the man's father.

I first began writing this review by saying what's wrong with Matt Damon's and that later film's approach to the character of Tom Ripley, but I went back and noticed I had done the exact same thing for Dennis Hopper's portrayal of the character in 1977's The American Friend. Nevertheless I still feel I need to bring some of that up again as I examine the very first cinematic portrayal of the character by Alain Delon. This version actually begins in a rather interesting way. We jump right into the relationship between Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf, Phillipe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) in this version. We don't see Ripley lead into his plan, they've already spent some time together, and the film actually takes the style as though the story might be something a little lighter. That's not to say the film seems tonally wrong but kind of brilliantly the film hides its true intents from us just as Ripley hides his true intent from Greenleaf. As the film begins its breezy tone as does Delon who just seems to have Tom fulfilling the role of the hanger on, just happy to be around a rich "cool" guy like Greenleaf.

There is of course more to Ripley than what we gain from the first glance. In fact it is soon afterwards that Delon begins to reveal more about the man. Delon takes a far more subtle approach, than the overt awkward creep that Damon would later do, in these moments. We see Ripley go along with Greenleaf on his little escapades, and although whenever he is in Greenleaf view Delon presents just a good party friend, there's a bit more when he looks away. There's a great moment when Greenleaf is romancing a random woman, and Ripley tries to do the same. Delon does not present this as a jealous attempt by Ripley but rather something far more interesting. There is a mimicry in the very act as Delon has Ripley taking notes as he tries to kiss and caress the woman in the same manner as Greenleaf.  Delon does not do this as a man just simply trying to act like the other person, but rather there is a more severe intensity that Delon brings. That intensity of a man who quite simply wants to be the other man, and again this is still not so simple due to Delon's intelligent portrayal.

Ripley's plan continues as he architects Greenleaf's fall by ensuring his philandering is known by his fiancee Marge (Marie Laforêt) all the while setting up everything for his personal replacement of Greenleaf. What I love about Delon's approach though is he portrays this inherent fascination in Ripley towards Greenleaf, though in a rather unique. He portrays an attraction not necessarily to the man, but rather the life. Again not as just a man being greedy or anything like that, but rather he conveys Ripley's motivations as a method for the man to find an identity for himself. When there is a scene early on of Ripley play acting out his replacement of Greenleaf, Delon is terrific by not showing any pleasure in this exactly rather a strange contentment of being this alternative self. Delon manages to show the more of the natural sociopath in his Ripley. In that Delon does not actually portray ever a maliciousness in Ripely at any point, instead he depicts him as a man who is essentially being himself, even if that means being someone else.

When we get to the first murder Delon does not show it to be a vicious attack, rather a specific undertaking of Ripley simply going through with the plan. Now Delon's approach here has a curious effect, something that Hopper also accomplished, Damon failed to accomplish, and I believe was always the intention of the character. The effect being he becomes the bizarre "hero" for the story. Now this is in more of a Richard III sort of way, as we see to become Ripley's accomplishes as he goes about his crimes. Delon does this a few ways. One is that there is a certain sense of fun he brings to the proceedings. Delon never winks towards the camera, but he capitalizes so well on the state of his character. There is a wonderful moment where Ripley, pretending to be Greenleaf, is told by Marge over the phone that she had an affair with Ripley. Delon's reaction is priceless as he's humorously at being used as the lie. 

Delon is always true to the nature of the man he's developed, and this strange honesty, in a man who is always lying, is quite captivating. Delon always has Tom Ripley being Tom Ripley. As we follow him through the plan Delon which he never undercuts. There are technically moments of humanity, humanity in that he presents the right fear in his close calls with the police. It does not seem wrong for the character yet Delon brings in all the more into Ripley's plan. A fascinating thing about Delon's work is that he never cheapens the character for an easier explanation. In the end when Ripley has everything lined up, all of Greenleaf's wealth, and even his fiancee, Delon shows that strange contentment in the imitation. Again though Delon never reveals overt lust for the woman, or desire for the money. It rather Tom Ripley just getting to be exactly what he wishes to be. This is an excellent performance by Alain Delon as he succeeds in finding and creating the needed complexity for the character. Delon's chilling at times, humorous at times, but most importantly is always compelling in his portrayal of such a unique character as Tom Ripley.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on some of the voices in Pryde of the X-Men (Earl Boen, Kath Soucie, John Stephenson, Michael Bell and Dan Gilvezan)?

Giuseppe Fadda said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast?

Anonymous said...

Surprised no one has been commenting so far.

Luke Higham said...

My current rating predictions for every performance saved/requested so far for 2016.

Supporting Actor
Alden Ehrenreich in Hail Caesar! (4.5)
Harvey Scrimshaw in The Witch (4.5)
Ralph Ineson in The Witch (4.5)
Jack Reynor in Sing Street (4.5)
Christopher Lloyd in I Am Not A Serial Killer (4.5)
Damian Lewis in Our Kind Of Traitor (5)
Stellan Skarsgard in Our Kind Of Traitor (5)
Sam Neill in Hunt For The Wilderpeople (5)
Aaron Eckhart in Sully (3.5)

Undecided
Ben Foster in Hell Or High Water (5)

Lead Actor
Michael Shannon in Midnight Special (4.5)
Jake Gyllenhaal in Demolition (4.5)
Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War (5)
Anton Yelchin in Green Room (4.5)
Russell Crowe in The Nice Guys (4.5)
Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys (4.5)
Ethan Hawke in Born To Be Blue (4.5)
Jeff Bridges in Hell Or High Water (5)
Chris Pine in Hell Or High Water (5)
Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins (4)
Tom Hanks in Sully (4)
Julian Dennison in Hunt For The Wilderpeople (4.5)

Calvin Law said...

Luke: great way to break the silence :)

I'd guess,

Ehrenreich - 4.5
Scrimshaw - 4.5
Ineson - 4
Reynor - 4.5
Lloyd - 4.5
Lewis - 5
Skarsgard - 4.5/5
Neill - 5
Eckhart - 3

Foster - 5

Shannon - 4.5
Gyllenhaal - 5
Downey Jr. - 5
Yelchin - 4.5
Crowe - 4.5
Gosling - 4.5
Hawke - 4.5
Bridges - 5
Pine - 5
Grant - 4.5
Hanks - 4.5
Dennison - 5

Luke Higham said...

Tom Bennett in Love And Friendship (4)
Kate Beckinsale in Love And Friendship (4.5)
Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead (4.5)
Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe in Swiss Army Man (4.5)
Oakes Fegley in Pete's Dragon (4)
Jonah Hill in War Dogs (3.5/4)
Matthew McConaughey in Free State Of Jones (4.5)

94dfk1 said...

Anonymous: I'm planning on seeing Deepwater Horizon tonight. I'll comment on it and the performances on here after.

Luke Higham said...

And Anya Taylor-Joy (4.5) and Kate Dickie (4) in The Witch.

Calvin Law said...

I'm seeing Swiss Army Man tomorrow, no idea what to expect.

94dfk1: That one's getting rave reviews thus far, which I did not expect.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: Lone Survivor got fairly good reviews too, and it was truly awful.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Earl Boen - (He's pretty great as firmly maniacal Magneto. We really aren't meant to sympathize with this Magento in anyway. He's just about pure evil, and Boen does this with great relish.)

Kath Soucie - (An earnest performance, and probably has the most nuance among the cast to the point that she probably could have made in the later series. She's rather effective in bringing a bit more substance there particularly through her emotional moments at the end)

John Stephenson - (As a purely good Prof. X, he brings the nice warm fatherly quality you want.)

Michael Bell - (Straight to the point heroism defines his Cyclops and Ball brings that quality without question.)

Dan Gilvezan - (Downright right ridiculous but enjoyably so. I can't help but feel his performance was the basis for Deadpool's Colossus)

Giuseppe:

Okay the supporting cast is where the 99 version shines.

Ronet - 3(Compared to Law's work he's a tad underwhelming. He just does not make as much of an impact, though to be fair he has less time to work with. Ronet's good at doing the indulgent and selfish playboy, but it just feels standard compared to what Law did with the role.)

LaForet - 3(Again she's good on her own in portraying her character's frustrations with Phillipe, but is not nearly as incisive as Paltrow's work was in the same role. That goes for even the early scenes where their parts more closely match.)

Kearns - 2.5(One more time. He's alright on his own at expressing the passive disdain his character feels towards Tom, but compared to Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance his work falls a little short. Hoffman managed to make his Freddie feel more than what he was, while Kearns just suits the purpose of the role nothing more.)

Calvin Law said...

I've always liked Damon's Ripley, would probably give him a solid 4. I really need to see Delon though.

In terms of recent breakout actors I think Dane DeHaan would be a solid choice.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Have you seen Hopper? I only ask because I was far more positive on Damon's portrayal before I saw the alternate takes on the character.

It's quite unfair but for some reason all I can imagine is his Harry Osborne as Ripley.

Robert MacFarlane said...

ASM2: Poisoning our perception of otherwise good actors since 2014.

94dfk1 said...

Deepwater Horizon is an effective film with well-done action scenes. The characterization is done a little better here than In Lone Survivor, albeit nothing too noteworthy. The tributes to the victims in the end tugged on a little too close to the heartstrings IMO.

Wahlberg-3 (His accent is all over the place and he never really commits to it. He does have a couple of nice moments during the aftermath, but overall nothing special.)

Russell-4 (My favorite of the cast. He really strikes you as a guy you'd meet in a workplace like this, with a certain level of charisma.)

O'Brien- 3 (His accent wasn't half-bad, but he seemed to be there only to fit the "young worker" archetype in these types of films. Ok enough.)

Malkovich- 3 (Boy, everyone sure wanted to have an accent in this movie. He commits to it at least, unlike Wahlberg.)

Hudson-2.5 (Not bad, but just thinly written as the "distressed mother at home.")

houndtang said...

You should review Malkovich in Ripley's Game - quite an unjustly overlooked film.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: That's one I need to check out, too.

Robert: God help anyone who played a villain in ASM2 come out of its shadow.

Saw Swiss Army Man. LOVED it, though I'm still not entirely sure about the ending - could've done without the other characters coming in, frankly.

Radcliffe - 5 (well here we have Daniel R becoming Daniel D-L. The physical portrayal of Manny is amazing, as Radcliffe brings such life to the living corpse in such a compelling fashion. He's not only entirely natural in portraying the physical state of the character but is also downright hilarious with every facial movement he makes, every action he takes, and every garbled word he says, and he even gives them a bit of an arc. In addition to being entertaining and hilarious, though, I also found him extremely moving in the later scenes showing his character's insecurities about his place in the 'real' world. I need a re-watch for Cheadle, but Mr Radcliffe may well be my number 1 for the year)

Dano - 5 (I was thinking 4.5, but then the more I ruminate about it he's every bit as essential to the film's success as Radcliffe is. He carries the opening beautifully with a very realistic and understated approach to the man maddened by solitude, and the chemistry he develops with Radcliffe is beautiful. He has the least showy role but also does well to sell the laughs with his reactions to Manny's ridiculousness and the emotional beats too. Then as the film reaches its end, though I feel it could've ended on a slightly more intimate note, Dano makes the 'loss' of Manny so powerful, and manages to make his final reactions both heartwarming and somehow hilarious)

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Joel McCrea as an actor?

Varun Neermul said...

The moment Brendan's step-father flips out and says "I HATE SQUASH''

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on the cinematography of Only God Forgives?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

McCrea - (What Steve Carell said about him in Cafe Society. Seriously though that is pretty true. Not sure he had a huge range, but he made for one endearing leading man. I find he worked best when the material had just a bit of humor to it, even if overall it was more serious in tone, as he always managed to capitalize on it. He had great comedic timing, yet knew exactly how to infuse it effectively into a more dramatic arc.)

Matt:

Rather brilliant in its abundant use of neon red, mixed often with deep shadows that craft such captivating imagery, a beautiful hell. A little too perfect in a metaphorical sense as you're in hell well watching the film, but hey you still need to admire just how lovely the painful prison you're in looks.

L Rime said...

Been catching up on a lot of TV these days and have missed quite a few movies that have come out. Probably gonna have to catch up on those before the end of the year.

Was wondering, what do you all think is the best television lead performance that you've seen. Your favorite, I mean.

Louis Morgan said...

L Rime:

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I'm turning 16 on the 3rd, and I'm really excited, even if I have a busy week ahead of me (4 tests and a MUN conference in the weekend).
Louis: I was just wondering, when is your birthday? And if you see Swiss Army Man, I'd love to know your ratings and thoughts on the cast and the film.

Varun Neermul said...

So... Yesterday I watched Boyhood and I really wanted to like it... but it was kind of bad.

Alex Marqués said...

One question guys, do you think the "Minnie hates Mexicans" argument in The Hateful Eight is just a lie by Sam Jackson's character or a plot hole?

Calvin Law said...

Alex: Probably. The flashback seems to suggest she doesn't really have anything against anyone, not even Bob/Marco, although he doesn't explicitly reveal himself to be Mexican.

Calvin Law said...

I'll admit the flashback scene is what bumped Roth, Dern, Madsen and Bichir up to 4.5's and 4's because the actors in that scene were mostly not particularly good, yet they still managed to enliven it with their performances.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Although he wasn't considered for the role, I think Karloff could have been a great Frollo in the 1939 adaptation of Hunchback of Notre Dame. What do you think?

Alex Marqués said...

Calvin: I meant, do you think it's a lie of the character, or just a plot hole?

Calvin Law said...

Alex: Sorry, didn't read it properly, it's definitely a lie I'd say. There's a few plot holes in 'The Hateful Eight' but I wouldn't say that's one of them. :)

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar: What are your thoughts on the recent Chinese Golden Horse film nominations?

L Rime said...

Louis:

Bryan Cranston was really good. Not a bad choice at all. Mine is probably Timothy Olyphant in Justified. He's been overlooked for years, mostly because it doesn't even seem like he's acting half the time. In a way, he's the opposite of Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. Olyphant thrives off minimalism and subtlety. I hope one day you'll get around to watching Justified, Louis. I'd really like to get your thoughts on the cast.

Anyway. I saw Deepwater Horizon. I really liked Lone Survivor, even with Wahlberg's mediocre lead performance. I thought Berg directed it pretty well. I enjoyed DH as well and I thought Wahlberg was much better here then he was in LS. Even with his wonky accent, he fit in to the role more naturally. Was also a huge fan of Kurt Russell.

Alex Marqués said...

Other than Cranston in BB, my favourite tv performance is Ian MacShane in Deadwood. Please, watch that show if you haven't. Just do it, guys, you won't regret it.

L Rime said...

Alex:

Deadwood is great. One of the best shows of all time. Would probably be the greatest, period, if it had gotten a proper ending. Love that entire cast too.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Unpopular opinion: Bryan Cranston is only my third favorite performance on Breaking Bad. Maybe even fourth.

L Rime said...

Robert:

He's not my favorite on BB either. I can understand why people love his performance though.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, so do I, I just honestly think Jonathan Banks and Aaron Paul are even better.

94dfk1 said...

Speaking of Cranston, has anyone here seen The Infiltrator? If so, rating and thoughts on his performance? He's a solid 4 for me, even though the narrative of the film is quite derivative and doesn't really bring much novelty to this specific genre. Movie is still decent, however.

RatedRStar said...

Anonymous: None, haven't seen any

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I just finished seeing Swiss Army Man. It was so bizarre, surreal, yet so damn incredible at the same time. Radcliffe and Dano were great in it (both of them are 5's in my book), and they are now both my top 2 for Lead Actor this year.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on:
Arnold Schwarzenegger in End of Days
Hulk Hogan in Rocky III
Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV
Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, John Putch, Lea Thompson and Louis Gossett, Jr. in Jaws 3-D

94dfk1 said...

L Rime: My thoughts exactly on Eahlberg regarding the two films. He played his character in Lone Survivor as an action hero when he should've played it solemnly. His typical style worked better in DH, even if his accent is, like you say, wonky.

Varun Neermul said...

Louis, your thoughta on American Graffiti as a film.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

My birthday is in May. I'll try to see Swiss Army Man soon.

Anonymous:

I think Karloff could have been great as well but Hardwicke owned the role, so no real loss there.

Anonymous:

Schwarzenegger - 2.5(Not the best choice for NY cop, but as I recall this was a decent enough performance for him. Although I have no reason to rewatch the film, he could go up if I did.)

Hogan - 1(I don't understand why they tried to make him an actor for so long, as his wrestling presence did not carry over. Technically it should have for this role of all roles, but he still came off as hammy and awkward despite playing a Hammy pro wrestler)

Lundgren - 2.5(He's fairly one note, and faintly ridiculous. I'd say there's probably a reason he does not talk much, but you know what he definitely serves his purpose)

Jaws 3-d cast - (Been a LONG time I have no plans for a re-watch. Recall everyone being a bit bland. Except MacCorkindale who was a bit of fun, and Gossett who did his best to bring a bit of gravitas.)