Jean-Pierre Melville: 'an American in Paris'

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British Film Institute, Aug 26, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 278 pages
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One of the most brilliant film-makers in post-war French and world cinema, Jean-Pierre Melville now enjoys renewed popularity. His Bob le flambeur (with its street-wise Montmartre and Pigalle settings, its cool jazz score and its good-humoured tale of gangster clans) not only inspired the New Wave, but has attained unassailable cult status. Other iconic gangster films such as Le Doulos, Le Samourai and Le Cercle rouge are now hailed as masterpieces by latter-day legends John Woo and Quentin Tarantino. Meanwhile, with Le Silence de la mer and L'Armée des ombres, Melville also contributed two of the greatest films about the Resistance during World War II.
This first major study of Jean-Pierre Melville in the English language discusses the artistic value of the films in their context and the director's love of American culture from which he derived his name, his sartorial style of Stetson hat and dark glasses, and his ambition to rework the Hollywood gangster film in a French setting. The author looks at Melville's controversial critical and political standing, his extraordinary focus on masculinity and male stars such as Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura, and his trademark "pared-down" mise-en-scène.
Ginette Vincendeau, one of the world's leading writers on French cinema has here provided the comprehensive critical account of Melville so badly needed and reveals the director to be not only a fashionable cult director but one of the few true masters of the cinema.

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24 heures de la vie dun clown Les Enfants terribles
Le Silence de la mer Leon Morin pretre LArmée des ombres
Bob le flambeur Deux hommes dans

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About the author (2003)

Ginette Vincendeau is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Warwick. She is the author or editor of numerous publications including The Encyclopedia of European Cinema, Stars and Stardom in French Cinema, Pepe le Moko and (with Alastair Phillips), the forthcoming Journeys of Desire: European Actors in Hollywood.