Noirvember 2017, Episode 21: Two Men in Manhattan (1959)


Two Men in Manhattan (Deux hommes dans Manhattan) (1959) Jean-Pierre Melville
Kanopy streaming (1:25)

I’m stepping outside my own guidelines for Noirvember today by viewing a film from 1959. The reasons? The film appears on Kanopy, a new streaming service that all Anne Arundel County library patrons can access for free, and it’s a Jean-Pierre Melville film that I hadn’t previously seen.


The film opens in New York City as the leading French delegate to the United Nations has mysteriously disappeared. Already tired from a long day, French journalist Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville, left) gets sent out by his editor to find out the truth behind the diplomat’s sudden disappearance. Knowing that his photographer friend Delmas (Pierre Grasset, right) knows Manhattan far better than he does, Moreau drags Delmas out of bed to assist him on the quest. What follows is a night filled with clubs and bars, show girls and prostitutes, and much more, all done on a very low budget, but you don’t mind one bit: this is pure noir. Melville clearly loves America and noir and while we might wink and nod at various elements of his noir homage, he clearly knows how to make a compelling film.

"Two Men in Manhattan" (1958) has never before been released in the U.S.

This was the only time Melville appeared in one of his own films, although he sometimes took bit parts in films by other directors. Although I have seen only half of his 14-film output, I count Melville as one of my favorite directors. If you haven’t seen any of his films, Two Men in Manhattan is probably a good starting point. For more on Melville, I highly recommend the article “One Hundred Years of Jean-Pierre Melville: No Greater Solitude” by Imogen Sara Smith in Issue #22 of the Noir City e-mag. For information on how to get the e-magazine (and support the Film Noir Foundation), read this.


Next: Cagney lights it up. Literally.

Photos: Movie Poster Shop, Popshifter, IndieWire

9 thoughts on “Noirvember 2017, Episode 21: Two Men in Manhattan (1959)

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  3. Hmmm…. I’ll certainly have to track Magnet of Doom down somehow. It’s not even on the 12-disc French release (which has no English subtitles anyway). I’ll have to find a way to persuade you to consider a region-free Blu-ray player – Life will never be the same! 🙂

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  4. I actually stumbled across Magnet of Doom on YouTube, though it doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Based on a quick Amazon search, it looks like it’s been released on DVD in the U.S. under the title An Honorable Young Man, but it’s only available through third party sellers and I can’t vouch for the quality. As for the Melville box set, I don’t have a region-free Blu-ray player, unfortunately. It looks like a great collection, though — hope you enjoy it!

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  5. It really was fun, wasn’t it? I’ve seen about half of Melville’s output but haven’t seen MAGNET OF DOOM yet – look forward to finding that one. (I can just picture Jean-Paul Belmondo in that Elvis/Sinatra argument!) Are you getting the new Melville box set from Studio Canal? (I decided to give myself the set for Christmas!) Thanks for reading!

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  6. Pingback: Noirvember 2017: Week 3 Recap | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  7. Thanks for the article recommendation! Melville is one of those directors whom I never really think of as a favorite, but I always enjoy his films, and I remember this one being quite entertaining. It was fun to see his take on New York, all the more so since he was playing the lead. He did another movie set in the U.S. called Magnet of Doom, which I saw but don’t remember particularly well. (The one thing that sticks out in my mind is a scene where Jean-Paul Belmondo gets into an argument with some American soldiers over whether they should play Elvis or Frank Sinatra on a jukebox.) It might make an interesting companion piece to this one.

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