HIGHSMITH X 3 and LOVING HIGHSMITH
Starts September 2nd at Sag Harbor Cinema
Coinciding with the release of the new documentary Loving Highsmith, which premieres at Sag Harbor Cinema on September 9th, SHC will host three classic film adaptations from the work of the great Texan novelist Patricia Highsmith: Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, Wim Wenders’s The American Friend and Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Based on Highsmith’s novel of the same name, Strangers on a Train ranks among Hitchcock’s most praised films and is one of the few to feature his daughter in an acting role. The accidental encounter between two men – a tennis star, whose wife won’t grant him a divorce, and a wealthy young man, who wants rid of his father – leads to a casual conversation about “the perfect crime:” what if each committed murder for the other? Hitchcock had asked several famous writers to adapt the book, among them John Steinbeck, Dashell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The first two refused the job; Chandler delivered a draft which the director did not like. Three weeks before the shoot was set to begin, the task ended up with three women: Hitchcock’s assistant Czenzi Ormonde, the associate producer Barbara Keon and his wife, Alma Reville.
A long time fan of Highsmith’s novels, Wim Wenders pays homage to the work with a loose adaptation of Ripley’s Game. Dennis Hopper stars in the neo-noir as an amoral art dealer involved in the criminal underworld of West Germany. Countering the German setting, Wenders scored the film with Bob Dylan’s songs and Ballad of Easy Rider. Highsmith was initially skeptical about Hopper’s portrayal of her iconic character, but came to respect him and the film.
Basking in golden Mediterranean light, The Talented Mr. Ripley is likely the glossiest Highsmith adaptation so far. Matt Damon, cast against type, plays Highsmith’s most famous and devious creation. With Cate Blanchett, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in supporting roles.
The documentary Loving Highsmith, written and directed by Eav Vitija will open at SHC the following week. An insightful look about the author’s life and creative processo, the film draws from Highsmith’s diaries, notes and correspondences and from the personal accounts of people who knew her well. The multilayered documentary explores the connection between her personal life and frequent themes of love and identity in her work.
Tickets for the screenings are available on the cinema website, www.sagharborcinema.org.
More information on the films is available below:
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
Dir. Anthony Minghella
USA, 1999; 139 mins, in English
After the Oscar-winning The English Patient, writer/director Anthony Minghella attempted another tricky literary adaptation with The Talented Mr. Ripley, which features Matt Damon cast against type as a psychopathic bisexual murderer. Tom Ripley (Damon) is a bright and charismatic sociopath who makes his way in mid-’50s New York City as a men’s room attendant and sometimes pianist, though his real skill is in impersonating other people, forging handwriting, and running second-rate scams. After being mistaken for a Princeton student, Tom meets the shipping tycoon father of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), who has traveled to the coast of Italy, where he’s living a carefree life with his father’s money and his beautiful girlfriend, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Dickie’s father will pay Ripley 1,000 dollars plus his expenses if he can persuade Dickie to return to America. As Ripley and Dickie become friends, Tom finds himself both attracted to Dickie and envious of his life of pleasure. The Talented Mr. Ripley was based on the first of a series of novels featuring Tom Ripley written by Patricia Highsmith; the story was previously filmed in 1960 as Purple Noon, with Alain Delon as Ripley.
THE AMERICAN FRIEND
Dir. Wim Wenders
West Germany, 1977; 126 mins, In German,
English, and French, with English subtitles
Wim Wenders pays loving homage to Hollywood film noir with The American Friend, a loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game. Dennis Hopper oozes quirky menace as an amoral American art dealer who entangles a terminally ill German everyman, played by Bruno Ganz, in a seedy criminal underworld as revenge for a personal slight—but when the two become embroiled in an ever-deepening murder plot, they form an unlikely bond. Filmed on location in Hamburg and Paris, with some scenes shot in grimy, late-seventies New York City, Wenders’s international breakout is a stripped-down crime story that mixes West German and American film flavors, and it features cameos by filmmakers Jean Eustache, Samuel Fuller, and Nicholas Ray.
In his seminal book about film noir, Barry Gifford writes, “Of all the ‘homage’ films made since the 1940s and ’50s meant to evoke noir, The American Friend succeeds more than most because of the spaces, the sputters, and sudden shifts of energy that allow the characters to achieve veracity.”
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
USA, 1951; 101 mins, in English
Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic suspense tale – widely considered one of the master’s best works – tapping into the evil that lies in each of us. When two strangers – tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger), whose wife will not grant him a divorce, and wealthy but deranged young Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker), who wants to be rid of his father – meet on a train from Washington to New York, the conversation casually turns to a possibly perfect crime: what if each committed murder for the other? There is nothing to connect the two men. No apparent motive for either killing. When the trip ends, Guy believes the conversation was hypothetical, and that he will never see Bruno again. Then his wife is murdered…and Bruno returns for payback. Hard-boiled crime novelist Raymond Chandler co-wrote the screenplay of this film adaptation of the novel by Patricia Highsmith.
Dir. Eva Vitija
Switzerland/Germany, 2022; 83 mins, in English, German, and French
A unique look at the life of celebrated American author Patricia Highsmith based on her diaries and notebooks and the intimate reflections of her lovers, friends and family. Focusing on Highsmith’s quest for love and her troubled identity, the film sheds new light on her life and writing.
Most of Highsmith’s novels were adapted for the big screen; the best known of these are Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Carol, a partly autobiographic novel, was the first lesbian story with a happy ending to be published in 1950s America. But Highsmith herself was forced to lead a double life and had to hide her vibrant love affairs from her family and the public. Only in her unpublished writings did she reflect on her private life.
Excerpts from these notes voiced by Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Top of the Lake), interwoven with archive material of her and her most famous novel adaptations, create a vivid, touching portrait of one of the most fascinating female writers.
Sag Harbor Cinema
As a not-for-profit 501(c)3, community-based organization, Sag Harbor Cinema is dedicated to presenting the past, present and future of the Movies and to preserving and educating about films, filmmaking, and the film-going experience in its three state-of-the-art theaters. The Cinema engages its audiences and the community year-round through dialogue, discovery, and appreciation of the moving image – from blockbusters to student shorts and everything in between. Revitalized and reimagined through unprecedented community efforts to rebuild the iconic Main Street structure after a fire nearly destroyed it in 2016, SHC continues a long historic tradition of entertainment in the heart of Sag Harbor Village. SHC Members enjoy discounts on tickets and merchandise and can purchase food and drink at our concession stand, cafe, as well as our member-only rooftop lounge, The Green Room.
Live the Modern Barn Lifestyle