The Signature Style of Jean-Pierre Melville

Le cercle rouge
By  · Published on November 15th, 2017

Deep in the trench…coats.

The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane wrote the following about a 2017 retrospective of Jean-Pierre Melville’s films: “This is how you should attend the forthcoming retrospective of Jean-Pierre Melville movies at Film Forum: Tell nobody what you are doing. Even your loved ones—especially your loved ones—must be kept in the dark. If it comes to a choice between smoking and talking, smoke. Dress well but without ostentation. Wear a raincoat, buttoned and belted, regardless of whether there is rain. Any revolver should be kept, until you need it, in the pocket of the coat. Finally, before you leave home, put your hat on. If you don’t have a hat, you can’t go.”

This is how influential Melville’s love of film noir style became, and how it defined his films. In Le Doulos, Le Samouraï, and Le Cercle rouge, the French director helped perpetuate and complicate the strong, silent gangster from its American roots.

By MandarinCat Visuals, this video essay sucks you into the consummate cool of Melville’s take on Americana and how the clothes, props, and more helped define the aesthetics of his filmography.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).