On Screen: “Ripley”


The idiom “Everything old is new again …” can be applied to writer-director Steven Zaillian’s sensational new noir Netflix series “Ripley,” based on Patricia Highsmith’s pulpy, bestselling novels.

Sociopathic antihero Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott) is a down-on-his-luck grifter in 1961 New York who is hired by wealthy shipping magnate to travel to Italy to try to convince his prodigal son Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) to return home.

Tom’s acceptance of this lucrative job opens the door to a labyrinthine life of crime. As soon as he arrives in the picturesque coastal village of Atrani, he begins to ingratiate himself with entitled Dickie, much to the annoyance of his resentful girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Dakota Fanning), who is suspicious from the get-go.

“I’m not someone who takes advantage of people,” Tom claims when, in fact, that’s exactly who he is.

At Dickie’s villa, Tom learns about art, culture and beauty, particularly the distinctive use of light and shadow by Italian painter Caravaggio. He resents the intrusion of Dickie’s snobbish pal Freddie Miles (Eliot Sumner) and cleverly matches wits with Police Inspector Pietro Ravini (Maurizio Lombardi).

Traveling along the Amalfi coast to Rome, San Remo, Palermo and Venice, quick-witted Tom is a consummate con man, a conniving cheat capable of committing brazen art theft, mail fraud, forgery and brutally murdering multiple people.

Graham Greene aptly described author Patricia Highsmith as a “poet of apprehension.” By having Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood”) film in austere black and white, Oscar-winner Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List,” “The Irishman”) gives an artistically stunning, noir essence to her murky, malevolent story.

Prior to this Netflix series, there have been five films about Tom Ripley; perhaps the most memorable is Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. Others include “Purple Noon” (1960), “An American Friend” (1977), “Ripley’s Game” (2002) and “Ripley Under Ground” (2005).

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Ripley” is a tantalizing, tension-filled 10 — with all eight episodes now streaming on Netflix.


Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures. Her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M.

As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O’Brien, and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism.

During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie and drama critic, syndicating her reviews and articles around the world, including Video Librarian. She has appeared on American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies. In 2017, her book 150 Timeless Movies was published by Hannacroix Creek Books. Her website is www.susangranger.com.

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