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Follow ‘Ripley’ with these other Highsmith adaptations

By Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Published: April 19, 2024, 6:04am

Perhaps you’ve already torn through the eight-episode limited series “Ripley,” now streaming on Netflix. Created by Steve Zaillian, who also wrote and directed every episode, this gorgeous and gritty black-and-white noir is a far cry from the lush 1999 film “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” adapted from the same 1955 book by Patricia Highsmith. Starring Andrew Scott as the titular grifter, Johnny Flynn plays Dickie Greenleaf, the wealthy American loafing about on his trust in Italy with his girlfriend Marge (Dakota Fanning). The series is shot by the legendary cinematographer Robert Elswit.

It’s the first serialized adaptation of the book, which has graced film screens many a time, as well as other installments of Highsmith’s book series that have been adapted to the screen. Zaillian has said there is a possibility that he could adapt the other Ripley books for further limited series, but if you’re jonesing for a Ripley — or Highsmith — fix, here’s where you can find more streaming now.

The obvious next stop would be a watch or rewatch of Anthony Minghella’s beautiful 1999 adaptation, “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” No cast has ever been more beautiful than Matt Damon as Ripley, Jude Law as Dickie and Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge. A timeless classic, stream it on Showtime or rent it elsewhere.

Then there’s the 1960 French adaptation “Purple Noon,” or “Plein Soleil,” starring Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, Maurice Ronet as Phillipe Greenleaf and Marie Laforêt as Marge. Directed by René Clément, the film made the stunningly beautiful Delon a star, and it remains a favorite of cinephiles to this day. Stream “Purple Noon” on the Criterion Channel, Kanopy or rent it elsewhere.

After comparing all three “Talented” adaptations, move on to more Ripley adaptations. Wim Wenders’ 1977 film “The American Friend” is adapted from Highsmith’s 1974 novel “Ripley’s Game.” In the film, Dennis Hopper stars as Tom Ripley, opposite Bruno Ganz as Jonathan Zimmermann, a German man whom Ripley coerces into murder. This atmospheric noir is available to stream on Criterion Channel or for rent elsewhere.

“Ripley’s Game” was also adapted into a 2002 film directed by Liliana Cavani, starring John Malkovich as Ripley and Dougray Scott as his prey. Ray Winstone and Lena Headey also co-star. It’s available to rent on iTunes or Amazon.

And when you’re done with Ripley, check out more Highsmith adaptations, like the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Strangers on a Train,” the 1951 film based on her 1950 novel. Farley Granger stars as an ambitious tennis player who becomes involved with a murderous schemer played by Robert Walker, who wants to “trade murders.” Devilishly entertaining, “Strangers on a Train” is one of Hitchcock’s great films. Stream it on Tubi or rent it elsewhere.

Todd Haynes’ lauded 2015 film “Carol,” was adapted by Phyllis Nagy from the 1952 Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt,” and stars Blanchett and Rooney Mara as a pair of lesbian lovers on the lam. Both actresses earned Oscar nominations for their performance, and the holiday setting makes it the perfect seasonal watch. Stream “Carol” on Showtime or rent it elsewhere.

Finally, check out the utterly wacky 2022 erotic thriller “Deep Water,” directed by Adrian Lyne and starring former couple Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck. Adapted from the 1957 novel of the same name by Highsmith, it follows a New Orleans couple who have an open marriage, though things get harrowing when the husband’s jealousy starts to affect their arrangement. Stream “Deep Water” on Hulu.