Jean-Pierre Melville (born Jean-Pierre Grumbach) was an amateur filmmaker as a teenager who, after the start of World War II, began making his own independent short and feature films. He hit his stride in the ‘50s with his memorable adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s novel, Les Enfants Terribles, and, over the next 20 years, specialized in intelligent and exciting crime films, most notably Bob le Flambeur, Le Doulos (aka The Finger Man), Le Samouraï, Le Cercle Rouge, and Un Flic. Melville also acted in his own Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan, as well as Cocteau’s Orphee, Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle (aka Breathless), and Claude Chabrol’s Landru (aka Bluebeard). He died in 1973.
(From http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=2:102465 )
Like second-hand Nicholas Ray, which is funny considering how little Melville cared for Ray's style. There's a lot here to find fascinating if not necessarily gripping. The film is a fascinating lens to view American culture, one of the earliest examples of a foreigner's eye-view of the states in a narrative context. Europeans ran Hollywood, but Melville stayed on the outside looking in.
As the NYFF celebrates its 50th year, a look at the posters from the films that made up its first incarnation in 1963.