French filmmaker Rene Clement presents Alan Delon as a petty criminal on the run from the underground. On the Rivera, he seeks refuge in a flophouse whose soup line is served by Jane Fonda ... See full summary »
Charles (Jean Gabin), a sixtyish career criminal fresh out of jail, rejects his wife's plan for a quiet life of bourgeois respectability. He enlists a former cellmate, Francis (Alain Delon)... See full summary »
Julien Dandieu, leader of the socialist political party PRU is asked to be part of the new conservative government as minister of foreign affairs. However his reputation is somewhat ... See full summary »
After his friend, a hot young artist, is killed, a resourceful American man living in London covers up the crime and tries to keep the friend's name alive in order to exploit his legacy and... See full summary »
Tom Ripley is sent to Europe by Mr. Greenleaf to fetch his spoiled, playboy son, Philippe, and bring him back home to the States. In return, Tom will receive $5,000. Philippe toys with Tom, pretending he will go back home, but has no intentions of leaving his bride to be, Marge, and honoring his father's wishes. After some time passes, Mr. Greenleaf considers the mission a failure and cuts Tom off. Tom, in desperation, kills Philippe, assumes his identity, and lives the life of a rich playboy. However, he will need all his conman abilities to keep Philippe's friends and the police off the trail. Written by
Humberto Amador/Peter Brandt Nielsen
Visually, this film could serve as a cinematic poster for a Mediterranean cruise. Cinematographer Henri Decae draws us into the film with its alluring Italian locales and gorgeous panoramic vistas. Bright, complementary hues and high color contrast translate into eye-popping reds and yellows. And, of course, there's the deep blue color of the sea, and a brilliant sunlit sky. Such is the setting for a story wherein three attractive, young adults (Tom, Philippe, and Marge) test a 3-way relationship that is far more complex than it first appears.
Indeed, trouble lurks beneath the surface (so to speak), in this "Italiano paradiso" thriller. In the first forty minutes, the psychological motivations of our three beautiful people are unclear and subject to change. It's hard to tell who is doing what to whom. Subsequent to this narrative setup, we see exactly where the story is headed. Because "Plein Soleil" is a psychodrama, casting is important. The three leads (Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, and Marie Laforet) are all convincing in their roles.
I have not read the Highsmith novel on which the screenplay was based. So I cannot make an intertextual analysis. I do think this 1960 film is superior, for various reasons, to the more recent remake.
Adroitly directed by Rene Clement, with a buoyant musical score by Nino Rota, "Plein Soleil" is a character study of an amoral pleasure seeker whose charming personality masks the evil within. The juxtaposition of inwardly criminal intent with outwardly idyllic scenes of Italy and the Mediterranean results is an art house film that is both picturesque and suspenseful. It's a film that appeals both to our eyes and to our brains.
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