Jean-Pierre Melville's Two Men in Manhattan is the filmmakers only foray into America. The film takes place in New York City where a french journalist (played by Melville himself) is assigned to track down a French diplomat, who after missing a United Nation meeting, appears to be missing. Together with the help of a booze-filled photographer, they follow any lead they can, searching through nighttime New York for any clues. Jean-Pierre Melville's Two Men in Manhattan is a noir-type detective story which raises fascinating ethical questions revolving around journalistic integrity. Much of the film follows these two men as they travel throughout the city in search of clues. When they finally discover what has happened to the foreign diplomat the film raises the ultimate journalistic question, which is still incredibly poignant even today. The men have a chance to further their careers but in doing so they will sullen the reputation of a well-respected and overall good man. The film argues that the truth is not always for the greater good, and the notion that the public has the right to know, completely depends on the circumstances. I've always loved films in which foreign filmmakers capture New York. There is a romanticism involved, and Melville's lens is in full exploration mode, looking over the city and giving the viewer a unique viewpoint. This can also be said for some of the smaller background characters and situations, with the film consisting of quite a few scenes of very generic American-isms. One thing that surprised me about Two Men in Manhattan is just how comedic it was, with quite a few well-timed comedic moments that really give the film a nice light feel amongst the serious subject matter. The two main characters really play off each other extremely well, with Pierre Grasset's performance as the photographer really stealing the entire film. I was incredibly happy to be able to see this rare Melville film on the big screen and while it's one of his more obscure titles, it's an important film that's themes still ring very true to this day.
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