Though Tom Ripley has long loomed large in cinema, Todd Hayne’s “Carol” brought renewed interest in his creator, Patricia Highsmith. The writer credited with defining the modern thriller preferred the company of women, though that realization did not come easily. Her novels and short stories — elegantly suspenseful, soaked in unspoken desire — inspired many master filmmakers. Beginning January 19th, six will play New York’s Metrograph in the aptly titled series, “Based on a Book by Patricia Highsmith.”
The first is French director Claude Chabrol’s 1987 adaptation of “The Cry of the Owl,” which finds an illustrator’s obsession with his married neighbor landing him in unexpected danger. Starring Christophe Malavoy, Matilda May, and Jacqes Penot.
Thursday, January 19 at 2:30 pm & 5:30 pm.
Two men exchange murder victims in order to avert suspicion in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 thriller. At the time, critics wrote it off as a crowd-pleasing “popcorn thriller,” but Roger Ebert considered it one of his top five Hitchcock films.
Friday, January 20 at 2 pm & 5 pm.
Shot in 35mm in 1999, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” ripples a queer chill into an otherwise commercial love triangle murder mystery. Starring the delicious tirfecta of Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, what could have been lurid paperback fare became a smart, twisted take on a murder mystery in the hands of director Anthony Minghella.
Friday, January 20, 4:15 & 9:15.
The first film appearance of Highsmith’s striving Tom Ripley casts a young and glowing Alain Delon as the notorious social climber. Many consider Delon’s Ripley the definitive portrayal, and the role made him a star in France and internationally, though his refusal to learn English kept him from American fame.
January 21, 4 pm.
Wim Wenders initially wanted John Cassavetes to play Tom Ripley in his 1977 adaptation of “Ripley’s Game,” the third novel in Highsmith’s popular Ripley series. When Cassavetes turned him down, suggesting Dennis Hopper for the role, Wenders decided to cast directors in all the gangster roles. The film features cameos by Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, and Jean Eustache.
January 22, 4 pm.
Ironically, Highsmith was inspired to write her defiantly optimistic lesbian romance “The Price of Salt” while working at a department store in order to pay for psychotherapy she hoped might “regularize” her sexuality. Todd Haynes’ exquisitely crafted adaptation unfurls gently and deliberately across the screen, each frame loaded with all the subtext of the furtive glances shared by stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.