20 October 1917
|Died||2 August 1973
Jean-Pierre Melville (born Jean-Pierre Grumbach; 20 October 1917 – 2 August 1973) was a French filmmaker.
While with the French Resistance during World War II, he adopted the nom de guerre Melville as a tribute to his favorite American author, Herman Melville. He kept it as his stage name once the war was over.
Life and career
After the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Grumbach entered the French Resistance to oppose the German Nazis who occupied the country. He adopted the nom de guerre Melville, after the American author Herman Melville, a favorite of his. Melville fought in Operation Dragoon.
When he returned from the war, he applied for a license to become an assistant director, but was refused. Without this support, he decided to direct his films by his own means, and continued to use Melville as his stage name. He became an independent film-maker and owned his own studio.
He became well known for his tragic, minimalist film noir crime dramas, such as Le Doulos (1962), Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle rouge (1969), starring major actors such as Alain Delon (probably the definitive "Melvillian" actor), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura. Influenced by American cinema, especially gangster films of the 1930s and '40s, he used accessories such as weapons, clothes (trench coats), and fedora hats, to shape a characteristic look in his movies.
Melville's independence and "reporting" style of film-making (he was one of the first French directors to use real locations regularly) were a major influence on the French New Wave film movement. Jean-Luc Godard used him as a minor character in his seminal New Wave film Breathless. When Godard was having difficulty editing the film, Melville suggested that he just cut directly to the best parts of a shot. Godard was inspired and the film's innovative use of jump cuts have become part of its fame.
Melville died in Paris in 1973 from a heart attack at the age of 55.
|1945||Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d'un clown||Twenty-four hours in the life of a clown||Short film|
|1949||Le Silence de la mer||The Silence of the Sea|
|1950||Les Enfants terribles||The Terrible Children|
|1953||Quand tu liras cette lettre||When You Read This Letter|
|1956||Bob le flambeur||Bob the Gambler|
|1959||Deux hommes dans Manhattan||Two Men in Manhattan|
|1961||Léon Morin, prêtre||Leon Morin, Priest|
|1962||Le Doulos||Doulos: The Finger Man|
|1963||L’Aîné des Ferchaux||Magnet of Doom|
|1966||Le Deuxième Souffle||Second Breath|
|1967||Le Samouraï||The Samurai|
|1969||L' Armée des ombres||Army of Shadows|
|1970||Le Cercle rouge||The Red Circle|
|1972||Un flic||Dirty Money|
|1947||Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne||()||Jacques Loew|
|1950||Orpheus||Hotel Director||Jean Cocteau|
|1956||Bob le flambeur||Narrator||Jean-Pierre Melville|
|1957||Un amour de poche||Le commissaire||Pierre Kast|
|1959||Deux hommes dans Manhattan||Moreau||Jean-Pierre Melville|
|1959||Le signe du lion||()||Éric Rohmer|
|1960||À bout de souffle (English: Breathless')||Parvulesco||Jean-Luc Godard|
|1960||Zazie dans le métro||()||Louis Malle|
|1963||Landru||Georges Mandel||Claude Chabrol|
|1967||L'homme à la Buick||()||Gilles Grangier|
Code Name Melville
Produced in 2008, the 76-minute long feature documentary Code Name Melville (original French title: Sous le nom de Melville) reveals the importance of Jean-Pierre Melville's personal experience in the French Resistance during World War II to his approach to filmmaking.
- Breitbart, Eric (2006). "Call Me Melville". New England Review 27:3. pp. 174–183
- Ginette Vincendeau Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris, 2003, BFI Publishing, ISBN 0-85170-949-4
- Tim Palmer "An Amateur of Quality: Postwar Cinema and Jean-Pierre Melville's LE SILENCE DE LA MER," Journal of Film and Video, 59:4, Fall 2006, pp. 3–19
- Tim Palmer "Jean-Pierre Melville's LE SAMOURAI", in Phil Powrie (ed.) The Cinema of France, 2006, Wallflower
- Tim Palmer "Jean-Pierre Melville and 1970s French Film Style," Studies in French Cinema, 2:3, Spring 2003
- Jean-Pierre Melville at the Internet Movie Database
- Bibliography of books and articles about Melville via UC Berkeley Media Resources Center
- Biography on newwavefilm.com
- Jean-Pierre Melville World Socialist Web Site
- Article at Senses of Cinema