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One of the most brilliant film-makers in post-war French and world cinema, Jean-Pierre Melville now enjoys renewed popularity. His "Bob le flambeur" (with its street-wise Montmartre and Pigalle settings, its cool jazz score and its good-humoured tale of gangster clans) not only inspired the New Wave, but has attained unassailable cult status. Other iconic gangster films such as "Le Doulos", "Le Samourai" and "Le Cercle" rouge are now hailed as masterpieces by latter-day legends John Woo and Quentin Tarantino.Meanwhile, with "Le Silence de la mer" and "L'Armee des ombres", Melville also contributed two of the greatest films about the Resistance during World War II. This first major study of Jean-Pierre Melville in the English language discusses the artistic value of the films in their context and the director's love of American culture from which he derived his name, his sartorial style of Stetson hat and dark glasses, and his ambition to rework the Hollywood gangster film in a French setting. The author looks at Melville's controversial critical and political standing, his extraordinary focus on masculinity and male stars such as Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura, and his trademark 'pared-down' mise-en-scene. Ginette Vincendeau, one of the world's leading writers on French cinema has here provided the comprehensive critical account of Melville so badly needed and reveals the director to be not only a fashionable cult director but one of the few true masters of the cinema.