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09 June 2008

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Have you read or seen Strangers on a Train, a non-Ripley Highsmith novel made into a Hitchcock film? I rather liked both, but I also liked both Ripley's so maybe you should discount my recommendation.

Tripp,
No, I haven't seen Strangers on a Train, but I really enjoy Hitchcock movies, so I think I'll add that to the list.

I think movies are even harder to suggest (or to guess how another person will react to) than books, largely because I'm not a real visual person and it's hard for me to remember that much of what people like about movies are the atmosphere or cinematography. Ripley definitely had a neat "look," and I think the actors actually did a serviceable job (I didn't even mind Gwyneth Paltrow, and I am NOT usually a fan of hers).

It's also very hard for me to suspend disbelief for longer than 90 minutes. I can do it if you've got enough story (the first Lord of the Rings movie comes to mind) but those types of stories are few and far between. I was going to see Sex and the City (proving I'm a girl, if anyone wondered) but have since heard it's nearly two and a half hours long, so that scratched that plan.

Give Highsmith a try in print. Very few writers do a better job of evoking creeping dread than she does. One of the problems with the Ripley movie (I thought) was the difficulty they had making Tom Ripley a sympathetic character. Highsmith has you pulling for him throughout the book, then stopping every 50 pages or so to wonder what happened to your moral compass. I think Tripp will back me on this one.

Steve,
Thanks, I think I will still try the Highsmith, sometime. I think she was an interesting person and author; perhaps I will just get a biography of her instead?

I don't want to give away the ending, and this may be too much information about my moral compass, but I actually was on Ripley's side for most of the movie. I was only disappointed with the ending because, frankly, I was kind of rooting for him. Now I definitely need the book to check out the characterization, because they certainly didn't make the rich yucks in the movie very sympathetic characters.

Steve is correct, Highsmith does him well in the book, the first one at least, I can't speak to the later ones. To your point CR, wasn't there a celebrated Highsmith bio written in the past few years?

My next fiction read as it happens is a Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, for which I am quite excited. And on the topic of movies to books, my favorite movie of all time, The Third Man, is a Greene screenplay.

Tripp, if you like Our Man in Havana, you might also like John Le Carre's The Tailor of Panama. Our Man in Havana is the only Graham Greene novel I've read, and I read it because of the Le Carre novel. I think I liked it, but I don't really remember...

Jon, I quite liked the movie of the Tailor of Panama, so things look good for Our Man in Havana.

FYI: The movie adaptation of Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair" is also worth watching

Tripp, Jon,
Funny what a small world it is. The other day I tried to struggle through The Tailor of Panama but discovered I'm just not much of a Le Carre fan. Maybe I'll just see the movie. I've not read Our Man in Havana, but I did read Greene's The Power and the Glory a long time ago, and remember that it was interesting, even if I didn't love it.

Mary!
Yes, that's exactly what someone else told me about "The End of the Affair." I had never seen it because I'm not a Julianne Moore fan, but I might be able to get over that (particularly since Ralph Fiennes is the male lead, isn't he?). Thanks for the reminder!

Just to put my two cents in: I couldn't stand Julianne Moore before I watched her adaptation of "The End of the Affair," a movie which made me appreciate her talent for the first time and got me hooked on all things Graham Greene.(And, yes, Ralph Fiennes was a definite bonus.)
In case you didn't know, there is also an earlier film version of the novel starring Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson. Both are worth watching—and of course you HAVE to read the book. Strangely enough, it was one of Greene's least favorites (he was never happy with it and thought it too rushed), but William Faulkner called it “one of the most true and moving novels of [his] time.”

Oh oh oh (jumping up and down in her seat, call on ME, call on ME) you absolutely cannot judge the Highsmith book by that terrible movie. That movie is NOTHING like the book, and the ending is totally different in the book! As other comments point out, Highsmith does what seems impossible: she makes you root for the villain (Ripley) in a way no other author can do. I loved Tom Ripley in the book, and HATED that movie. Highsmith's writing style is elegant and intelligent, and I really urge you to give her a try. The whole Ripley series is one of my all time favorites!

Tracy,
This is very good to hear, about "The End of the Affair." I was warming toward Julianne Moore because I liked her in "Children of Men," so I'd better add this movie to my list of "must watches." Thanks!

Becky,
That's it, I'm totally getting the Highsmith book, I just put it on hold at the library. Thanks for the deciding vote!

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