Honor Among Thieves: The Cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville
Honor Among Thieves: The Cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville (2021)
The crosscurrents between the classic Hollywood cinema and France’s postwar cinema are rich in producing iconic imagery with philosophical resonance, and no filmmaker has immersed himself in this project more than Jean-Pierre Melville (1917–1973). Nurtured on American movies, and living through the turbulent years of the mid-twentieth century, Melville memorialized his wartime experiences in the Resistance with works like Le Silence de la Mer (The Silence of the Sea) and L’Armée des ombres (Army of Shadows) while alternately presenting the stark glamor of his postwar film noir heroes in films like Bob le flambeur (Bob the Gambler) and Le Samouraï.
A filmmaker who redefined the rules of postwar independent filmmaking and influenced a generation of New Wave acolytes, Melville was also able to captivate the popular audience with stories of beleaguered existential outsiders—gangsters, thieves, and rogue cops—as they wend their way toward a greater definition of our modern human condition.
Honor Among Thieves profiles this filmmaker’s eventful life and discusses his cinema as an essential body of work in our reckoning of postwar European cinema, and of Melville’s own influence on the filmmakers who admire him.