As highly as I think of Army of Shadows, as hackneyed as it is to say, my personal favorite Melville film is Le Samourai.
Bob le Flambeur, because it was the film that introduced me to him.
I am yet a novice when it comes to Melville but my introduction, and favorite thus far, was Les Enfants Terribles. Take that as you will, I understand well that it was a collaborative effort between Melville and Cocteau, yet I believe that the combination proved amazing, and that Melville’s direction shined through beautifully in this film.
tough to say, but I would have to agree that Le Samourai is still the one that gets me goin the most
I haven’t seen them all but Bob le flambeur is one of my favorite movies ever. I would love for Criterion to put out a new version of it, but I’m not expecting that.
Bob le Flambeur, so far of the three that I’ve seen.
Ah; what are the other two you’ve seen?
Ones I can’t live without: Army of Shadows, Le Samourai, Bob le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge, in that order. Although the near-silent opening scenes of Un Flic is possibly my so far favorite stretch of film by him.
Yeah, I liked Un Flic as well. However, I think that Delon and Crenna’s roles should have been switched. I mean… I just don’t buy them as cop and criminal, respectively.
Re: Delon and Crenna. In retrospect, they probably should have been switched. But the fluidity of cop and criminal roles in Melville’s films, and the likeability and charisma of both, makes it a tough call. Either way, as long as Deneuve is between them.
Le Cercle Rouge,… ( w’sup with these gangsters and “the last score”- as old as cinema itself )
Le Enfants Terribles -ah, the tension!
@Matthias: Le Samourai & Army of Shadows. Both of which are great, just not Bob.
Bob le Flambeur was the film that introduced me to Melville (like so many). Though, I will say that Le Cercle Rouge is pretty damn awesome.
I know this: I want my Blu-Ray Jean-Pierre Melville’s.
“army of shadows” seems to me to be his masterpiece. i thought it was his best film. a majority of the others are all variations on the same heist theme. “le samourai” is good, but nothing amazing. “army of shadows” transcends everything else he’s ever done.
1. Le Samuraï
2. l’Armée des ombres
3. Le Deuxième souffle
4. Le Doulos
5. Un Flic
6. Le Cercle rouge
7. Léon Morin, prêtre
8. Les enfants terribles
9. Bob le flambeur
10. Le silence de la mer
11. l’Aîné des ferchaux
Did not see:
24 heures dans la vie d’un clown
Quand tu liras cette lettre
Deux hommes à Manhattan
I wouldn’t propose it to be his best, but I’ve got to say that I really did enjoy Le deuxieme souffle a great deal.
I can’t help but see the plight of the Lino Ventura character (an old-style gangster working to maintain his credibility with a new generation—who show little by way of respect or intergrity) as anything but a parallel for Melville himself, who was the target of scorn and criticism to the writers and directors of the New Wave. I’ve said it before, but while I enjoy many of the films of that younger group, there is at least a dozen French directors directly preceeding them who remained their betters. Melville is one of them.
As far as personal favorite goes, for me it remains Bob le flambeur, simply because it combines his brilliance with an intoxicating sense of play. (I don’t think anything he did afterwards was anywhere near as much fun.) His skills would continue to ripen as he went along, but his filmography provides at least five or six legitimate choices for anyone’s favorite, ranging in merit mostly depending on personal taste and the story at hand. He was a craftsman of the first order.
NO T.HANKS —
To which New Wave directors do you refer? Truffaut thought of him as a near father figure, and Godard, Rohmer and Chabrol all revered him greatly.
I’ll suspect the same of Malle.
They even all put him into BREATHLESS.
Bob Le Flambeur is fantastic. but it’s a line ball for the style and mood of Le Samourai…… dead heat.
Le Cercle Rouge. Hands down.
yeah as far as I knew the New Wave loved Melville…
Le Samourai is my favourite out of his films (that I’ve seen so far).
Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge.
I responded to Christopher’s remark personally, (and in a very friendly manner) just to keep things from going off topic. But since there’s another comment regarding what I said re: the New Wavers and Melville, I’ll reiterate here:
I believe that both the written and audio extras in the two latest Criterion Melvilles, (Le doulos, and Le deuxieme souffle) contain reference to the fact that, while Melville was a shining light to the Nouvelle Vague in the beginning, at some point as the sixties went on he fell into their great disfavor. Partly because, as they went to assert themselves as filmmakers their approach became increasingly “progressive”, whereas Melville continued to follow what they considered an outmoded, chiefly American approach to material. (I’ve read several other non-Criterion accounts that concur—although details seem scarce, and my Fracais no is so yes, which excludes researching original source material.)
There was also a disdain based on politics, as Melville’s own became evidently, (and admittedly) right wing. Additionally, Melville went on to become a member of the French censorship board, and took a stance against subsidies for filmmakers, (reasoning that he himself had dug his own way to success, so…). I’m sure that didn’t please them.
Lastly, as he continued to garner popular and commercial succsess in France throughout the 60’s, (and positive reviews in the mainstream press) this was seen as the result of pandering to the masses and further alienated Melville from his former admirers.
I’m fairly certain that by the time of Melville’s passing in ‘73, he and Godard were not on speaking terms, (“Mutually disdainful” would probably not be an overstatement) and Cahiers made no mention of Melville’s passing or considerable achievements in their publication—probably the loudest silence in its history. Melville was self-admittedly difficult to get along with; and when you add to that the fact that you had splinterings within the Nouvelle Vaugue itself, (to say nothing about the political situation in France at the time) it really becomes little surprise that what had begun as hero-worship ended pretty much in acrimony.
ADDENDUM: I began writing this post before Adam Suraf’s excellent, (and more mercifully brief) account. To Adam: il miglior fabbro
l’Armée des ombres with Le Cercle Rouge at a close second. Really, I can’t choose. I just know that I wasn’t a fan of his last film, Un Flic.
honestly, all of melville’s crime caper films blend into each other for me. my memory can’t make significant distinctions between them when i think back on how good they are or not. maybe “le samourai” is the only one that transcends.
“army of shadows” stands tall above everything else he did. the film is an epic tragedy, and it contains all the best elements of his caper films too. it also seems to be the most experimental of his films, in terms of form. the film takes his abstraction to the extreme, ironic given this is the film based on real occurences. this contradiction creates his most intriguing work, and his most profound statement on all of his signature themes. and the film is packed with emotion unlike any of his other films.
The two stick up scenes in Un Flic are mesmerizing. Delon stealing the car at 3 minutes and 42 seconds into Le Samourai might possibly be the best bit of crime committed to film. Still, Army of Shadows is the master work.
I just watched Le Samourai for the first time, and it was my first Melville movie, and I’ll have to say I was extremely pleased with it. 10/10 in my opinion and cannot wait to discover more films by Melville.