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Patricia Highsmith – Ripley’s Game


Stranger on a train by Hitchcock.

The Haunts of Miss Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith wrote 22 novels, many of them set in Greenwich Village, where she lived. But the landscape of Highsmith Country consists not only of the physical Village neighborhood, but also the dark and desperate territory of Highsmith’s psyche.

Ripley Films: Alain Delon was Ripley in Plein de Soleil. Matt Damon is Ripley in Minghella’s TheTalented Mr. Ripley. Malkovich stars in Liliana Cavani’s Ripley’s Game.
Plein de Soleil<> Talented Mr Ripley
American Friend Ripley’s Game.
Gerald Peary interviews Patricia Highsmith

“He mingled two books for American Friend. One of them he didn’t buy.” (Wenders’ frame story concerns forged paintings, a plot fragment borrowed, uncredited, from Ripley Under Ground.)
Highsmith met Wenders before The American Friend, when he tried to buy film rights to one of her books. According to Wenders, the novels he was interested in, Cry of the Owl and The Tremor of Forgery, were already optioned. Highsmith suggested he read the one she had just finished writing. “It was Ripley’s Game,” said Wenders, “and I liked it from the beginning.” And Highsmith liked Wenders. “There’s something about him that’s OK. His artistic quality, his enthusiasm.”

The American Friend, she concedes, has a certain “stylishness,” and she thinks the scenes on the train are terrific. Also, she liked Wenders’s Paris, Texas. But, back in the American Friend, she is confused by Dennis Hopper’s highway cowboy rendition of Ripley. “Those aren’t my words,” she says of his philosophical soliloquies.

  • Repley – Anti-Hero

  • Hiding in plain sight 1patriciaJeannette by Jeannette Winterson

    Patricia Highsmith said of herself, “I am always in love. . . .” Yet at her memorial service in Tegna, Switzerland, in 1995, there were no lovers from the past, and there was no lover to mourn her in the present. The service was filmed, which Highsmith would have liked, because although reclusive, she was interested in posterity. Such display also allowed Highsmith to hide in plain sight (as her hero Edgar Allan Poe put it in “The Purloined Letter”) the fact that all her relationships had failed. Highsmith had died in a hospital alone, and the last person to see her was her accountant. Highsmith was obsessed with taxes.

  • This woman is dangerous

    The hallmark of her work is a calm, hallucinatory intensity built on sentences of unemotional plainness and clarity. Her hypersensitive protagonists, logically, inexorably, spiral downhill from ordinary anxiety to murderous rage and madness. Like animals keenly alert for invisible traps or New Yorkers in the first uneasy months after September 11, Highsmith’s characters move through their lives with an ever-increasing and sometimes justified wariness. Graham Greene famously called her “a poet of apprehension” who had “created a world of her own—a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger.”

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