Step Outline: The Talented Mr Ripley, Directed by Anthony Minghella
- TOM RIPLEY’S face against a black backdrop as his character narrates a voice over. The camera pans out to show him playing piano at a high-class garden party in New York. He meets DICKIE GREENLEAF’S FATHER who recognises his jacket as one from Princeton, where his son went. Returns the jacket to its real owner. He runs into a theatre. <All over opening credits. >
- He is a bathroom attendant at the theatre. Watches the concert being performed from the wings. Practices the piano alone on stage.
- Meets with DICKIE GREENLEAF’S FATHER who proposes that he persuade DICKIE to come home for a fee of $1000.
- JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS After learning of DICKIE’S love of Jazz music he memorises the songs and artists blindfolded. Packs his bags to leave and gets into a smart taxi. OPERA MUSIC as the ferry leaves port.
- The ship arrives in a bustling Italian port. The camera follows a blonde woman (MEREDITH) to whom he introduces himself as Dickie Greenleaf. They bid farewell.
- A blue bus journeys across an idyllic Mediterranean coastline. RIPLEY is awed. He arrives at a quaint harbour.
- RIPLEY practices his Italian whilst watching DICKIE and MARGE frolicking on the beach. Accidentally on purpose passes DICKIE and pretends that he recognises him from Princeton. DICKIE is unconvinced but MARGE invited him to lunch.
- RIPLEY spots DICKIE cavorting with an Italian girl.
- DICKIE returns to find that RIPLEY is at his house with MARGE. RIPLEY tells DICKIE that his talents are of impersonation and does a creepy impression of DICKIE’S FATHER. It is revealed that RIPLEY is being paid to take DICKIE home. They walk through the crowded streets.
- As RIPLEY is about to leave he purposefully drops Jazz records in front of DICKIE.
- DICKIE takes RIPLEY to a smoky Jazz bar. RIPLEY is awed and then he and DICKEI sing on stage together.
- RIPLEY agrees to stay on as “a double agent”. He hears DICKIE and MARGE discussing him and then does an impression of them to himself in the mirror. RIPLEY tells DICKIE he has a fiancé. DICKIE declares that he is never going back.
- DICKIE and MARGE take RIPLEY out onto a sailing boat to teach him how to sail. It is revealed that he can’t ski either – “such low-class”.
- MY FUNNY VALENTINE plays as MARGE and RIPLEY walk through the cobbled streets discussing their mutual love, DICKIE.
- RIPLEY and DICKIE ride a bike along the coast.
- RIPLEY and DICKIE perform together at the Jazz club.
- Back at the house, RIPLEY tells DICKIE how revealing handwriting is and then, later, when they play chess (DICKIE is in the bath) RIPLEY makes a pass at him.
- DICKIE suggests taking RIPLEY to Rome to buy a jacket. A café in Rome, FREDDIE arrives in a bright red car. They go to a record shop and FREDDIE and DICKIE ditch RIPLEY. RIPLEY morosely wanders around the tourist spots of Rome.
- DICKIE returns to find RIPLEY prancing around his room in his clothes to music. DICKIE is irritated. Downstairs, FREDDIE teases RIPLEY.
- RIPLEY, DICKIE, MARKE and FREDDIE go sailing. RIPLEY is sulking and MARGE comforts him, and tells him that the ski trip isn’t happening. FREDDIE catches RIPLEY watching DICKIE and RIPLEY have sex, FREDDIE asks, “How’s the peeping?”
- DICKIE’S Italian Girl watches the party coming to shore from a rock.
- There is a Catholic procession – singing and crowds. The Italian girl’s body rises to the surface shortly after the icon of the Virgin Mary does. There is panic and hysteria. DICKIE, MARGE and RIPLEY watch from the balcony. DICKIE lashes out and calls Italy “primitive.” Away from Marge, DICKIE reveals that the Italian girl was pregnant with his child and that he had refused to help her. RIPLEY says that it is their secret and they are brothers.
- The next day at the train station DICKIE announces that it is time that both of them moved on. Says that San Remo can be their last trip to together.
- On the train RIPLEY sniffs DICKIE. DICKIE wakes up and calls RIPLEY “spooky.”
- At a lively Jazz bar RIPLEY has to admit that he neither likes Jazz nor went to Princeton. DICKIE doesn’t seem to mind.
- They are alone together on a boat, scouting the shore for places for DICKIE to live. DICKIE tells RIPLEY he is relieved that he is going because he is a “leech” and “boring.” UNNERVING PIANO MUSIC plays as RIPLEY accuses DICKIE of being careless and selfish. As DICKIE goes to drive the boat back to shore RIPLEY hits him round the face with an oar. Blood comes pouring out of hisface but he is not dead. They wrestle. RIPLEY batters DICKIE to death with an oar.
Writing this step outline I was aware of the way that the director is able to slowly up the tension until the climax of the first third of the film occurs on the boat. We are made to follow Tom Ripley and we become unnervingly intimate with his sociopathic tendencies. The audience is well aware of Ripley’s true nature before the either Dickie or Marge are.