What do gangsters represent for you?
JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE: Nothing at all. I think they’re pathetic losers. But it so happens that the gangster story… is a very suitable vehicle for the particular form of modern tragedy called film noir, which was born from American detective novels. It’s a flexible genre. You can put whatever you want into it, good or bad. And it’s a fairly easy vehicle to use to tell stories that matter to you about individual freedom, friendship, or rather human relationships, because they’re not always friendly. Or betrayal, one of the driving forces in American crime novels.
Do you know any gangsters?
MELVILLE: Yes, I knew quite a few. But they’re nothing like the ones in my films.