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.
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