Two Men in Manhattan

Deux hommes dans Manhattan
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Produced by Florence Melville
Alain Térouanne
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring Jean-Pierre Melville
Pierre Grasset
Music by Martial Solal
Christian Chevallier
Cinematography Nicolas Hayer
Edited by Monique Bonnot
Release dates
16 October 1959 (France)
Running time
85 min
Language French / English

Two Men in Manhattan (French: Deux hommes dans Manhattan) is a 1959 French film-noir directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The film stars Melville (who also wrote the screenplay) and Pierre Grasset as two French journalists in New York City searching for a disappeared United Nations diplomat.

Though Melville occasionally played bit parts in films by other directors (most notably as Parvulesco in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless), Two Men in Manhattan was his only starring role and the only time he acted in one of his own films (he served as the off-screen narrator in Bob le flambeur).


After a hard day's work, the reporter Moreau is asked by his boss to find out why the head of the French delegation to the United Nations has suddenly disappeared. Moreau drags out of bed the unscrupulous photographer Delmas, who knows his way round Manhattan at night. Together they visit women the diplomat knew: an actress in a play, a jazz singer in a recording studio, a stripper in a burlesque show, a prostitute in an expensive brothel.

Stopping off in a bar, they hear from a news flash that the actress has tried to kill herself and is in hospital. Bluffing their way into her room, they bully the distressed woman into telling the truth: the ambassador is dead in her apartment, presumably from a heart attack. Taking a photograph of her in bed and stealing her keys, they rush round to find the corpse fully clothed on a sofa. Delmas removes some clothing and puts the body in the bed for a better picture. Ringing his boss to say the search is at an end, Moreau is told to keep it all quiet. Delmas however wants the money he can make from his pictures and runs off with the rolls of film.

All night the two have been trailed by a mysterious car, whose driver turns out to be the diplomat's daughter. She is desperate to locate her father, a national hero for his role in the Resistance, and to protect her mother. Joining forces with Moreau, the two go round all the magazines and press agencies to find where Delmas has sold his films. Then they go looking for him in clubs and bars, eventually at dawn finding him in one asleep. Moreau tells him what he thinks of him, knocks him to the floor, and leaves with the girl. Coming to, Delmas staggers out and throws the unsold films down a grating.


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