1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von Ebrennac, to live in for as long as he is in the area on Nazi business. As a figurative and literal silent protest against the Nazis, the uncle and niece do whatever is required of them while the officer is in their house, however they do not acknowledge his presence, living largely in silence whenever he is around. The officer treats the housing situation with care, like he is a guest. He speaks reverently about, among other things, culture – music and literature in particular as he is a composer and musician – his national pride, his love of France, and what he hopes will emerge from the war, namely a strong and free France, stronger than it was before the war, and the marriage between the French and German cultures which will enrich the lives of all Europeans. At the end of what ends up being his six month stay at the house, he does end up having a profound effect on the uncle and niece, despite that effect being largely unacknowledged, as his stay in France has a profound effect on him, opening up his eyes to the reality of the war.
CAST & CREW
Jean-Pierre Melville, Marcel Cartier
Director of Photography
Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri Decaë
Howard Vernon,Nicole Stéphane, Jean Marine Robain,Ami Aaröe, Georges Patrix
After the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Jean-Pierre Grumbach entered the French Resistance to oppose the German Nazis who occupied the country. He adopted the nom de guerre Melville, after the American author Herman Melville, a favorite of his. When he returned from the war, he applied for a license to become an assistant director but was refused. Without this support, he decided to direct his films by his own means, and continued to use Melville as his stage name. He became an independent filmmaker and owned his own studio. He became well known for his tragic, minimalist film noir crime dramas, such as Le Doulos (1962), Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle rouge (1970), starring major actors such as Alain Delon (probably the definitive "Melvillian" actor), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura. Influenced by American cinema, especially gangster films of the 1930s and 1940s, he used accessories such as weapons, clothes (trench coats), and fedora hats, to shape a characteristic look in his movies. Melville's independence and "reporting" style of filmmaking (he was one of the first French directors to use real locations regularly) were a major influence on the French New Wave film movement. Jean-Luc Godard used him as a minor character in his seminal New Wave film Breathless. When Godard was having difficulty editing the film, Melville suggested that he just cut directly to the best parts of a shot. Godard was inspired and the film's innovative use of jump cuts have become part of its fame.
A Day in the Life of a Clown/ 24 heures de la vie d'un clown (1946, short), The Silence of the Sea (1949), Les Enfants terribles (1950), When You Read This Letter(1953), Bob the Gambler (1956), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Léon Morin, Priest (1961), The Finger Man (1963), Magnet of Doom/Le deuxième souffle (1963), Le Samouraï (1967), Army of Shadows (1969), Le Cercle rouge (1970), Dirty Money/Un flic(1972).