TWO MEN IN MAHATTAN (1959)
French director Jean-Pierre Melville is known for directing several classic films such as Bob le flambeur (1956) and Le samouraï (1967), but he also did some acting over the course of his career. However, his only starring role was in his own 1959 crime film Two Men in Manhattan, where he plays a journalist named Moreau who is assigned to find out why a French diplomat named Fèvre-Berthier was absent from a United Nations council meeting. With his photographer friend Delmas (Pierre Grasset), Moreau suspects a female lover might be involved and follows clues from woman to woman in the night of New York City, a place that never sleeps. There also seems to be a car following Moreau and Delmas…Said to be a combination of American film noir and the budding French New Wave movement, Two Men in Manhattan very neatly utilizes the good sides of both styles. The urban street views and skyscrapers look excellent in the glow of the bright ad signs on store marquees and the dark, stark lighting set up for interior scenes is a joy to the eye too. The laid-back jazz soundtrack is highly enjoyable, creating a mood softer than in hard boiled detective noirs, even though the seedy locations would fit in such flicks seamlessly as well.