A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
User Reviews: As a native New Yorker, I found the movie a bit creepy, Melville’s image of Manhattan is too perfect, a city where the streets are seamless, glistening ribbons of asphalt, where the ashtrays have smoked cigarette butts stacked neatly in them with no sign of ash, where even the glass in telephone booths on the streets are spotless. When a French diplomat disappears and reporter Jean-Paul Melville in his first credited screen role — his audition must have impressed the director — is set on his trail, he doesn’t realize he himself is being followed. Meanwhile I was looking for a scrap of litter on the street, a straphanger on the subway whose hat and soul have been battered by a tough day…. nothing. Everyone is perfectly dressed, everything is perfectly clean, everyone dresses like a serious adult. You should have seen the motley assortment on the E train this afternoon.
Finally, about a quarter hour in, Melville goes to the apartment of his cameraman, Pierre Grasset, and the wallpaper outside his apartment was poorly hung. Aha! I thought, a creature of the demi-monde, someone who cuts corners, was looking out for himself, who had pictures of the young women that the diplomat…. associated with. Off they went into the night, still followed by a mysterious trailer, Melville, the moral reporter, and Grasset, the corrupt guide. I knew they would find their prey; but how moral would Melville be and how corrupt Grasset? And who was following them and why? Who was the hero of this story and exactly what was the Great White Whale they were following?
This movie is Melville’s own personal fantasy, set in a fantasy New York glamorous beyond belief to anyone who has dwelt in the real one. He had been born Jen-Pierre Grumbach, and had adopted a new surname in admiration of Herman Melville. He had played Bartleby and written and directed his own movies and now was going on his own voyage to find out if he could be the hero of his own tale.