With Le Doulos - Jean-Pierre Melville's crime thriller starring Jean-Paul Belmondo - returning to cinemas on 11 August in a new 4K restoration, we're pleased to announce that a further two titles from the master of French noir have been restored in 4K.
Bob le flambeur and Léon Morin, prêtre will screen across the UK and Ireland alongside other Melville classics as cinemas celebrate 100 years since the director's birth.
Melville is best known as a director particularly skilled in harvesting the clichés of American genre cinema of the 30s and 40s and redeploying them with a certain Gallic je ne sais quoi. In this respect, Bob le flambeur is vintage Melville, bearing many of the hallmarks that characterise the filmmaker's distinctive style.
Its story of a veteran gambler attempting one last job before escaping the criminal underworld belongs to the annals of noir history, but its name is ripped from the Parisian street slang of its time, and its stylised Montmartre milieu adds an intoxicating dash of local flavour to the imported narrative set-up.
A wartime drama rather than a policier thriller, Léon Morin, prêtre is something of a genre outlier within Melville's better known oeuvre. Nonetheless, it still forms an important part of the director's personal mythology. The film's setting in occupied France and its exploration of the Resistance and the experiences of the frustrated wives and widows the war has left behind are points with special significance for Melville. It was, after all, during his own time serving in the Resistance that he dropped his original surname, Grumbach, and adopted his unusual pseudonym.
Though the crime elements of his typical work are missing and the outlook is generally more realist and humanist, Melville still finds scope to indulge his fatalistic tendencies. Foregoing the trench coat for the cassock, the director uses this story of a country priest as a means of plumbing familiar quagmires of moral ambiguity and narrative inevitability.