Jean-Pierre Melville’s name evokes images of fedoras and lengthy trench coats billowing like church robes. In appropriating iconic symbols of American gangster films, Melville created his own world, in which hardboiled mythologies meshed with the philosophical concerns of post-World War II France. But after several films in this mold, such as Bob le Flambeur and Deux Hommes dans Manhattan, Melville wanted a change. Film historian Tom Milne writes: “In a spirit of contradiction, it seems, since the Nouvelle Vague was by then at flood tide, he announced with his sixth film [Léon Morin, Priest] in 1961, that he was tired of being the darling of a handful of cineastes.”
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.