North by Northwest (movie)

Jean-Pierre Melville's 'Two Men in Manhattan' reaches U.S. fans

American culture was more than a fascination for Jean-Pierre Melville; it was a defining component of the French director's persona and life's work. There was the surname he adopted, the Stetson hats he favored, the Cadillac he piloted through the streets of Paris. Above all, there was the hard-boiled sensibility of gangster movies from the 1930s and '40s, an attitude he polished into a new cinematic minimalism, bone-cold and bittersweet.

Melville got to exercise his vision stateside only twice. Among his 13 features, none was shot entirely on U.S. soil. The closest he came to a full-blooded American production was "Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan" ("Two Men in...