"In its iconography, Le Samouraï, like Le Doulos, multiplies Hollywood citations: the line-up at the police station, ‘lifted’ from The Asphalt Jungle, with Jef, like Dix (Sterling Hayden) staring down at police and witnesses, the police station offices, the black-and-white views of American fire escapes through Jef’s (sash) windows. These, however, are not examples of ‘copying’ or ‘reproduction’, as Tavernier and others would have it, but formal elements that are self-consciously reworked in Melville’s original design.” — Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris

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.

Japanese poster for Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï.

Japanese poster for Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï.

Rocco and His Brothers // dir. Luchino Visconti

Rocco and His Brothers // dir. Luchino Visconti

Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, and Sophia Loren at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.

Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, and Sophia Loren at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.

Alain Delon and Katharine Hepburn. Paris, 1971.

Alain Delon and Katharine Hepburn. Paris, 1971.

Delon, Antonioni, and Vitti on the set of L’eclisse

Delon, Antonioni, and Vitti on the set of L’eclisse

The Leopard // dir. Luchino Visconti

The Leopard // dir. Luchino Visconti

On the set of Rocco and His Brothers

On the set of Rocco and His Brothers

Rocco and His Brothers // dir. Luchino Visconti

Rocco and His Brothers // dir. Luchino Visconti