film noir francais 1

Who knew? . . . when the American film establishment was hyping Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), that French director Rene Clement had filmed a superior version of Patricia Highsmith’s disturbing novel on location in Italy in 1960? And that Minghella’s version was a remake?

Like, who knew that? I didn’t. arts•meme can’t know everything, guys! That’s why we have Ian Birnie, the talented cineaste who heads up the film program at our county museum, LACMA.

On Saturday night, Birnie’s French Crime Wave film series screened Clement’s brilliant Plein Soleil (1960) under its (regrettable) English-language name, Purple Noon. What a movie!

The young Alain Delon, at left, stars as the creepy, amoral, identity thief Tom Ripley — a perfectly frightening vacuous cipher. Film provides a color-drenched travelogue of Italy, so if you want to travel in time back to Naples circa 1960, see this film.

The heartless murder sequence filmed on a sailboat in the choppy Mediterranean Sea, a thrilling action sequence, gives new meaning to the expression “motion picture.” I got sea sick.

LACMA’s series, on thru next weekend, includes directors Jean-Pierre Melville, the revered “father” of the French crime film, René Clement, Jules Dassin, Jacques Becker, Bertrand Tavernier, Alain Corneau, Claude Sautet, Louis Malle, and François Truffaut.

Saturday’s double-bill closed withl’Acenseur pour l’Echafaud (1958), the great Louis Malle film noir that was a launching pad for Jeanne Moreau and features a sizzling jazz film score by Miles Davis.

Of Jeanne Moreau’s two diva-contemporaries, Simone Signoret and Catherine Deneuve, my favorite is Moreau (click on her). Moreau means business, but she’s not all pouts and frowns — unlike her successor, Isabelle Huppert, who is the queen of the pouty frown.

Jeanne Moreau is also passionate. Elle est toute femme— all woman.

One comment on “film noir francais

  1. andy Nov 29,2010 9:18 am

    Absolutely love “Ascenseur pour l’echafaud”‘s score… Miles is the king!

Leave a Reply