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Jean-Pierre Melville Retrospective

Jean-Pierre Melville (1917–1973) made 13 feature films between 1947 and 1972, most of them ranking among the best in post-war French cinema. As a young man, he directed a poetic adaptation of Jean Cocteau's classic LES ENFANT TERRIBLES (1950). His thrillers BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1956), LE DOULOS (1963) and LE SAMOURAÏ (1967), among others, with their cool noir style, are defining instances of the French policier. In a different mode, LE SILENCE DE LA MER (1949) and ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969) are revered classics of Resistance cinema. A supreme master of style, Melville was a "filmmaker's filmmaker," as this comment from L'Express confirms: "Each time Jean-Pierre Melville releases a new film, all filmmakers, including those who hate him, book a seat to see 'how it's done.'"

While many of his films were highly successful at the box office, Melville's critical reputation suffered spectacular ups and downs, ranging from being credited as "father of the New Wave" to disparagement and oblivion for decades. Yet recently, his critical currency has dramatically risen again, both in France and internationally. Prominent figures like Quentin Tarantino and John Woo have paid tribute to his influence. In 1999, Jim Jarmusch's GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI was in homage to LE SAMOURAÏ, and in the spring of 2003, Neil Jordan brought out a remake of BOB LE FLAMBEUR (THE GOOD THIEF).
– Ginette Vincendeau, "Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris"

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