Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

(pb; 1955: first novel in the Ripley series)

From the back cover:

"Tom Ripley is sent to Italy with a commission to coax Dickie Greenleaf back to his wealthy father. But Ripley finds himself very fond of this prodigal young American. He wants to be like him -- exactly like him. Suave, agreeable, and utterly amoral, Ripley stops at nothing -- certainly not only one murder -- to accomplish his goal."


The author of The Price of Salt and Strangers on a Train was starting to come into her own with this book, in which Ripley, a penurious, clever, first-time murderer with an inferiority complex, becomes the cincher of his destiny. Highsmith's analytic, distinctly European ambiance and tone lends an almost languid chill to the story, in which Ripley regularly slues between abject terror (when he thinks he's going to get caught) and thrill-seeker peaks (when he thinks he's going to get away with it all).

A psychological, adroit and perturbing literary delving into deviant nature, this. Memorable, worth your time.

Four book sequels followed the novel. The first sequel is Ripley Under Ground.


Two film versions have resulted from The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The first version, Purple Noon, was released in France on March 10, 1960.

Alain Delon played Thomas Ripley/Phillipe Greenleaf. Maurice Ronet played Phillipe Greenleaf. Marie Laforêt played Marge Duval. Billy Kearns, billed as Bill Kearns, played Freddie Miles.

René Clément directed the film, from a script he co-penned with Paul Gégauff (billed as Paul Gegauff).


Anthony Minghella scripted and directed the second version, The Talented Mr. Ripley. The film was released stateside on December 25, 1999.

Matt Damon played Tom Ripley. Gwyneth Paltrow played Marge Sherwood. Jude Law played Dickie Greenleaf. Phillip Seymour Hoffman played Freddie Miles.

Cate Blanchett played Meredith Logue. Jack Davenport played Peter Smith-Kingsley. James Rebhorn played Herbert Greenleaf. Sergio Rubini played Inspector Roverini. Phillip Baker Hall played Alvin MacCarron. Alessandro Fabrizi played Sergeant Baggio.

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