PURPLE NOON
PLEIN SOLEIL
1960, Janus Films, 117 min, France/Italy, Dir: René Clément

Alain Delon was at his most impossibly beautiful when PURPLE NOON made him an instant star. He plays Tom Ripley, a 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. This ripe, colorful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s vicious novel The Talented Mr. Ripley is crafted with a light touch that allows it to be at once suspenseful and erotic, and features some gorgeous location photography of coastal Italy.


MAIGRET AND THE ST. FIACRE CASE
MAIGRET ET L’AFFAIRE SAINT-FIACRE
1959, Kino Lorber, 101 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean Delannoy

Screen icon Jean Gabin returns as Georges Simenon’s redoubtable French inspector in this superbly crafted crime drama. The action starts when Maigret is summoned by the Countess (Valentine Tessier) to the Château de Saint-Fiacre, where she shows him a letter she has received predicting the day on which she will die.


THE SLEEPING CAR MURDER
COMPARTIMENT TUEURS
1965, French Institute, 90 min, France, Dir: Costa-Gavras

A virtually lost and forgotten jewel in the crown of French crime films, Costa-Gavras’ (Z, MISSING) suspenseful debut feature is a genuine classic. Six people share a sleeping compartment on a Paris-bound train. After they arrive, one of them is found strangled, and before long, the killer starts knocking off the remaining passengers. Yves Montand is superb as a harried police inspector coming down with the flu, who doggedly follows up every lead. Red herrings abound and the twists and thrills are masterfully executed. Enormously influential on not just other French crime films that followed but the Italian giallo thriller genre as well. With a dream cast that includes Michel Piccoli, Simone Signoret, Jacques Perrin, Catherine Allegret and Jean-Louis Trintignant.


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