After their parents die in a road accident, a strongly moral young woman named Thérèse Voise leaves a convent shortly before taking her vows in order to care for her younger sister Denise and run the family stationery shop with her. Thérèse is very protective of Denise and becomes concerned when her sister strikes up an acquaintance with Max a young amateur boxer and garage mechanic. Max is a self-centered drifter who is conducting numerous different relationships with girls at nightclubs. He is also pursuing a wealthy married woman, managing to get employment as her chauffeur and become her lover. Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Quand tu liras cette lettre AKA When You Read This Letter (1953)
The fair-haired Paul (Edouard Dermithe) engages in a snowball fight with several other boys outside his school, and is knocked out by a snowball tossed by the bully Dargelos (Renée Cosima). Far from being upset, Paul obsesses over Dargelos.
Bedridden, Paul is cared for by his domineering sister Elisabeth (Nicole Stéphane). Elisabeth acts angry and put-upon as nursemaid to the petulant, whiny Paul, but her attitude changes with the arrival of Agathe (Cosima), a boarder who comes to live with Paul and Elisabeth and threatens to break the siblings apart because of her attraction to Paul. The jealous Elisabeth begins manipulating both Paul and Agathe, along with Paul’s chum Gérard (Jacques Bernard), to make sure the status quo is maintained. But even the supremely confident Elisabeth can’t predict what her machinations will drive the others to do. Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Les Enfants Terribles aka The Strange Ones [+Extras] (1950)
Plot Outline :
Bob, a middle-aged gambler and thief, plans a complicated heist. He deals with a number of underworld characters while planning the robbery of the Deauville Casino. Bob eventually hires a gang that includes an ace safecracker. Unfortunately for them, Bob’s nemesis, an old cop who Bob once saved from death, is tipped off after a money-hungry croupier’s wife betrays them. The police are waiting when the gang begins the seemingly impossible task of robbing the casino vault. Meanwhile in the casino, Bob starts to gamble. Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Bob le Flambeur aka Bob the Gambler [+Extras] (1956)
The defiantly independent French director Jean-Pierre Melville was an outsider by choice. He financed his films outside of the studio system and built his own studio for maximum independence. He loved American cinema and made his reputation with a brilliant series of cool gangster thrillers, beginning with elegant, elegiac Bob le Flambeur (1955) and culminating in the austere masterpiece Le Samourai (1967), with Alain Delon as an existential assassin, and the heist classic Le Cercle Rouge (1970).
Army of Shadows, adapted from the 1943 novel by Joseph Kessel about the early years of the French Resistance, is the third of Melville’s three dramas set during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II (after his debut feature, La Silence de la Mer , and his 1961 drama Leon Morin, Priest), but by far his most personal. During World War II, Melville was himself a member of the Resistance, worked for French intelligence in London, and served in the Free French forces in the liberation of Italy and France. “This is my first movie showing things I’ve actually known and experienced,” Melville told Rui Nogueria in Nogueria’s 1971 interview book with the director. Kessler’s book is a work of fiction, but the characters were inspired by real life figures. Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – L’Armée des ombres AKA Army of Shadows [+Extras] (1969)
Master thief Corey (Alain Delon) is fresh out of prison. But instead of toeing the line of law-abiding freedom, he finds his steps leading back to the shadowy world of crime, crossing those of a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volonté) and alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). As the unlikely trio plots a heist against impossible odds, their trail is pursued by a relentless inspector (Bourvil), and fate seals their destinies. Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le cercle rouge combines honorable anti-heroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces to create a masterpiece of crime cinema. (criterion) Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Le cercle rouge [+Extras] (1970)
Plot Summary :
Simon (Richard Crenna) is an ace criminal with no respect for the law, he feels he can overcome it at will and so far, he has been able to. He leads three other men in a bank robbery in a small town and of course, Simon has it planned to the second. Even when one of the men is wounded, the plan unfolds on time and the four men escape with ease, as well as a whole lot of cash, of course. The men then bury the stash of money in a remote location, as it is just part of a larger plan, with a much larger payoff.
Simon has great skills to be sure, but he still has to keep an eye out for the authorities, including his good friend Coleman (Alain Delon). Coleman happens to be a detective as well as Simon’s friend, so of course, it makes for a most unusual friendship, to say the least. As Simon prepares his grandest scheme ever and Coleman tries to remain true to his oath as a police officer, a woman (Catherine Denueve) comes into the picture and of course, both men fall head over heels for her. As time closes in on the massive operation, what will happen to this most odd collection of people? Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Un Flic aka Dirty Money [+Extras] (1972)
The primary protagonists in this routine drama are two French journalists, Delmas (Pierre Grasset) and Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville, the director), and also the city of New York at night. The two journalists are on the trail of a story — a French diplomat has disappeared from the U.N. for no apparent reason. As they wander through the city tracking down the reason for the disappearance, the journalists eventually discover that the diplomat has met with foul play. Now the two men have a serious disagreement. Delmas wants to take photos of what happened and use them to create sensational headlines and plenty of attention, but Moreau wants them both to cover up what they have found and bury what they know. Continue reading Jean-Pierre Melville – Deux hommes dans Manhattan aka Two Men in Manhattan (1959)