|Jean-Pierre Melville (centre) with the stars of Red Circle|
Francois Perier, Andre Bourvil, Yves Montand, Alain Delon
The notes that follow are very short extracts of the published writings of a number of America's greatest critics. David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's notes come from a short essay headed "New Independent Directors" which appeared in the third edition of their monumental Film History - An Introduction. The late, American critic Roger Ebert had a great admiration for Jean -Pierre Melville as evidenced by a couple of seriously enthusiastic quotes taken from Ebert's still going (under other contributors) website. Manohla Dargis's note comes from the New York Times in 2006 when Melville's Army of the Shadows was finally released in the USA.
As one of his films after another is rediscovered, Melville is moving into the ranks of the greatest directors. He was not much honored in his lifetime. We now know from his gangster film "Bob le Flambeur" (1955) that he was an early father of the New Wave -- before Godard, Truffaut, Malle. He used actual locations, dolly shots with a camera mounted on a bicycle, unknown actors and unrehearsed street scenes, everyday incidents instead of heightened melodrama....in "Le Cercle Rouge" (1970), he showed police and gangsters who know how a man must win the respect of those few others who understand the code. His films, with their precision of image and movement, are startlingly beautiful.
|Lino Ventura, Army of Shadows|
Manohla Dargis writes on ARMY OF SHADOWS:
Nearly 40 years after Cahiers du cinéma gave it the big thumbs-down, Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Army of Shadows” (1969) is topping some American Top 10 lists this year, and for good reason. It’s a thrilling story about a handful of French Resistance fighters that also happens to be a masterpiece. (New York Times)
David Thomson writes on BOB LE FLAMBEUR