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BCB After Dark: So right it’s wrong?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks how worried are you about the team’s lack of left-handed pitching.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the sweetest shindig for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re in to the stretch drive, both here and in the MLB. So come on in and groove with us. There’s no cover charge. We’ve got a few tables available. The place will be swinging soon. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

The Cubs were off today after returning home from Canada. They start a two-game series with the White Sox on Tuesday night.

Last time I asked you who you thought would lead the Cubs in home runs at the end of the season. The vote wasn’t close as 75 percent of you voted for Cody Bellinger. After this weekend’s games, however, Bellinger is in a three-way tie for second place in home run on the team with Dansby Swanson and Christopher Morel. All three hitters have 18 home runs, which is two fewer than Patrick Wisdom, who has led the team in home runs each of the past two seasons.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Tonight’s jazz selection is the great saxophonist Stanley Turrentine playing “Sunny,” the old Bobby Hebb hit single. Except it wasn’t old when this was recorded in 1966.

I had promised to write about Purple Moon this week and so I shall. But I’ve had a lot of “back-to-school” obligations with my daughter this past weekend (and today as well), so I’m going to have to start writing about the film tonight and finish up on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Then next week, I’ll examine the American version of the same story, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Comparing two different versions of the same story are some of my favorite pieces to write, so that’s what I’ll be doing over the next two weeks. But I’ll get it started tonight.

The 1960 film Purple Noon (French title Plein soleil) was the film that made an international star out of Alain Delon. Directed by René Clément and also starring Marie Laforêt and Maurice Ronet, it was the first film adaptation of the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. (There had been one previous television adaptation.) There is also the 1999 American production which starred Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law that you’re probably more familiar with.

Purple Noon is a taut and entertaining thriller that starts out a bit slow but once it gets going, it doesn’t stop. Most impressively, the film manages to swing us around to the point of view of Tom Ripley, who, frankly, is a psychopathic con-man and serial killer. And that’s mostly a credit to Delon, who uses his baby-faced good looks (he was only 24 years old making this film) and his piercing blue eyes to charm not only the other characters on screen, but the audience as well. But Delon uses those looks to mask an emotionless cruelty. Ripley gets better and better at manipulating those around him as the film goes on. Ripley is not a genius—most of the time, he’s making up his plots as he goes along, juggling three or four plates and trying not to let any of them crash on the street. But his lack of a conscious, and the fact that those around him don’t realize that he doesn’t have one, allows him to keep the game going for a lot longer than it really should.

You really have to give Delon some credit here. Just as he’s on the brink of major stardom, he takes on a role of a very cruel and sinister man. That could have blown up in his face as audiences are trained to associate actors with the parts they play. But instead, the film became a big hit and Delon became a big star (everywhere but the US) for the next 30 years.

Purple Noon is a pretty big budget film for a French film from 1960. It certainly doesn’t throw money around like the 1999 American version (which is a really big-budget film for a psychological thriller), but there are a lot of on-location shoots from Rome and the southern Italian coast. If you’re into sailing, sailboats and the Mediterranean, this is the film for you. (Although the 1999 version has a lot more. It also cast Cate Blanchett in a minor role just because it could.)

The music for Purple Noon, by the Italian Nito Rota, is sparse and doesn’t try to manipulate the audience much. (Delon is doing that all by himself.) It kind of reminds me of the scores that would later accompany action television shows of the 1960s, except there’s a whole lot less of it. There are important, emotional scenes where no one is talking and no music is playing in the background. The mood is created by the characters’ footsteps or other incidental noise. (We should give some credit to the cinematography of Heri Decaë as well. Purple Noon isn’t noir, but there are some noir shadings to the way the film was shot, even though it is in color.)

Patricia Highsmith, who first gained fame writing the novel Strangers on a Train that Alfred Hitchcock turned into one of his best films, wrote five Tom Ripley novels before she died in 1995. Purple Noon takes some liberties with the plot and even though France didn’t have a Production Code like Hollywood did, there were still some topics that it shies away from. There is a homosexual subtext between Tom Ripley and Philippe Greenleaf (Ronet) that even a French film can only go so far with in 1960. (In the 1999 version, the gay subtext just becomes “text.”) And then there is the changed ending, which Highsmith disagreed with.

Purple Noon, however, is a terrible name for a movie. It also has pretty much nothing to do with the story. The French title, which translates to “Full Sun” is a little better, but not a lot. Of course, the film should be titled “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and in this trailer for the American release, that’s what they call it. So somewhere after that, apparently, some idiot executive slapped the “Purple Noon” title onto the film. But you can enjoy this trailer anyway.

I’ll write more about Purple Noon later in the week.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.

Tonight’s question is about how concerned you are about the Cubs pitching staff, or specifically, how concerned are you about the Cubs’ paucity of left-handed pitching?

The Cubs currently only have two left-handed pitchers on the 26-man roster. One is Justin Steele, and I don’t think anyone is worried about him. But he’s also a starter. The other is Drew Smyly, who was a starter but has been so ineffective lately that he’s been consigned to mop-up duty out of the bullpen. I don’t think manager David Ross is going to be calling on Smyly in a clutch situation in the playoffs to come into the game and retire a dangerous left-handed bat like Christian Yelich or Freddie Freeman.

When the Cubs are facing a left-handed hitter in a dangerous situation this year, Ross has been calling on Mark Leiter Jr., who is right-handed but has reverse splits. So far that’s worked pretty well, but will it continue to work in the postseason?

At the trade deadline, the Cubs’ front office failed to add a left-handed reliever. They did add José Cuas, who has been pretty good with the Cubs so far and has also had reverse splits this year. However, unlike Leiter, Cuas’ reverse-split platoon numbers are limited to this season. Last year with the Royals, Cuas most definitely did not have reverse splits. In fact, left-handers had an OPS last year off Cuas of 1.069, which is nothing short of awful. Against right-handers, it was a solid .634 last year.

So on a scale of 1 to 5, how worried are you that come the final week of the season or in the playoffs, that the Cubs most likely won’t have a left-hander in the pen? Or even in the starting rotation other than Steele. A vote of “1” means that you’re not worried at all or worried so little that it’s not worth mentioning. A vote of “5” means that you think this could end up being a fatal flaw for the team this year. Not that it definitely will, but you think it has a solid chance of being one.

So how worried are you that the Cubs are too right-handed?


How worried are you that the Cubs are low on left-handed pitching?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    1 (very little or not at all)
    (14 votes)
  • 22%
    (42 votes)
  • 33%
    (63 votes)
  • 29%
    (56 votes)
  • 6%
    5 (very worried)
    (12 votes)
187 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by this evening. I hope we livened up your off day just a little. Please recycle any cans and bottles you may have brought. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.