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New on Disc: 'Purple Noon' and more …

17 Dec, 2012 By: Mike Clark


Purple Noon

Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet.
1960.
Every time a copy of it shows up in a fresh rendering, I like to check out René Clément’s resonant psychological thriller about opportunism in one of screen history’s most physically handsome manifestations. Noon is again the kind of movie that makes a guy want to get out on the Mediterranean, brandish snappy clothes and romance continental beauties. It does not, though, make you want to get murdered, which is also part of the narrative package. The film is, of course, based on Patricia Highsmith’s same The Talented Mr. Ripley novel that Anthony Minghella turned into another very good night at the movies in 1999 — an interpretation significantly different in terms of emphasis on supporting characters and the ending. But I wouldn’t trade Noon’s wrap-up for anything. There’s major spoiler potential if one gets too far into the plot of what became lead Alain Delon’s star-maker. So suffice it to say that it involves a rich father who employs an impoverished on-the-make type (the kind who trades on his looks) to retrieve a playboy son (Maurice Ronet) who is perhaps enjoying too much of the same said water, pricey duds and femmes. It doesn’t take long for this hired hand to start taking to these fringe benefits perhaps a little too much himself — but without the sociopathic byproducts that ensue in a story that ends up bisecting itself at roughly midpoint. After Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, Clément’s earlier Ripley take is probably the one that battles it out with Minghella’s version or maybe Wim Wenders’ The American Friend as the most durable movie made from the author’s work.
Extras: The disc includes an early-1960s interview with Delon in which he is very forthcoming about work, his favored directors (Clément was among them) and how he stumbled into acting after four years of army service.
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Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection

Lionsgate, Drama, $39.99 Blu-ray.
Stars Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Vincent Gallo, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Frederic Forrest, Raul Julia, Cindy Williams, John Cazale, Nastassja Kinski, Teri Garr.
1974-2009.
As the definitive cross in the road regarding Francis Ford Coppola’s strange career, 1982’s One From the Heart had the makings of a cult movie even before it cemented that status by bringing in $389,249 over its opening weekend on an estimated then-whopping $27 million budget. All this for a 1982 movie shot in 1.33:1 and no marquee busters in its cast. There obviously are other titles in this reasonably priced collection, and some super ones at that: Oscar-nominated The Conversation; both versions of Apocalypse Now (I’m one of those who prefers the later reworking); plus 2009’s Tetro, which is something of a visual marvel and, alas, the only one of the director’s recent pictures that I like even a little. All, however, have previously been available on Blu-ray, which means that Heart (which finally got a belated DVD release in 2011) is likely this assemblage’s chief selling point. The story’s setting is some of the more neon-ish parts of Las Vegas, which means that this is a case where artifice meets artifice. Sometimes the wrong casting mix keeps you from even getting out of the gate. And here’s a story about a bickering longtime couple testing waters with other potential mates, where the principals end up being played by … Apocalypse Now’s Frederic Forrest, Teri Garr, Raul Julia and Nastassja Kinski, with subsidiary parts going to Lainie Kazan and Harry Dean Stanton. Heart is such a one-of-a-kind (with fine-for-its-day sound mixing) that one has to give it some points, though the visual rendering here is less than ideal when what this oddball really deserves is some Criterion TLC.
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