|Alain Deion played Thomas Ripley in the 1960 film version of the novel, The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. The 1960 movie was called Purple Noon.|
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
by Patricia Highsmith
There aren't many crime novels that have inspired not one but two excellent film adaptations, but The Talented Mr. Ripley was the source both for the French movie Purple Noon (with Alain Deion as Ripley) and the American film, made in 1999, with Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyenth Paltrow. The Talented Mr. Ripley marked the introduction of Thomas Ripley, the star of Highsmith's best-selling five volume Ripilad.
Thomas Ripley is a classic mid-to-late-20th-century anti-hero and he may be the first franchise level literary creation who qualifies firmly as an anti-hero. The whole idea of basing not just a stand alone book but an entire franchise around a ruthless con man and serial murderer is bold. It was bold in 1955, and it is still bold in 2016, no matter what artistic format you consider. After all, we may celebrate Darth Vader, but the movies are about Luke Skywalker. The Joker commands our attention, but the movie is called Batman.
Nothing much has changed in that regard in popular culture between 1955, we still celebrate the anti-hero but have trouble contemplating shaped wholly from the perspective of the anti-hero. The experience of rooting for Ripley, mostly because his targets seems so deeply unsympathetic and Ripley is so apologetic, comes easy. Highsmith does such a good job illustrating the interior life of an amoral sociopath, that you have to wonder about the author. She was, according to her Wikipedia, a hugely difficult human being, and so it's not hard to see the connection between Ripley and Highsmith herself.