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Elevator to the Gallows (The Criterion Collection)
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A French war hero plots to kill his lover's husband. Directed by Louis Malle. Music by Miles Davis.
Elevator to the Gallows is many things: A tight, delicious crime thriller; the debut of director Louis Malle (Zazie dans le metro, Atlantic City, Au Revoir, Les Enfants, and many more works of subtle genius); a movie with perhaps the greatest jazz soundtrack of all time, created improvisationally by trumpeter Miles Davis; but above all, Elevator to the Gallows is the blooming of Jeanne Moreau to the status of true movie star, launching her on a career that included Jules & Jim, La notte, and La Femme Nikita. After killing his lover's husband, Julien (Maurice Ronet, Purple Noon) gets trapped in an elevator, forcing him to miss his rendezvous with Florence (Moreau) and allowing his car to be stolen by a joy-riding young couple. From there, the movie splits into three directions: Julien's efforts to escape; Florence wandering the streets, trying not to believe that Julien has abandoned her; and the car thieves, who get caught up in a murder of their own. The movie skillfully fuses Hitchcockian suspense with intimate psychodrama. As she stalks through the night, Moreau is a vision of tortured heartbreak, her woeful eyes and lush, sensuous lips illuminated by neon signs and baleful streetlamps. This is pure cinematic pleasure, visual beauty fused with taut, edge-of-your-seat storytelling.See all Editorial Reviews
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- New and archival interviews with Louis Malle, actors Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet, and original soundtrack session pianist René Urtreger
- Footage of Miles Davis improvising the film's score
- New video discussion about the score with jazz critic Gary Giddins and musician Jon Faddis
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- 28-page booklet with essays by critic Terrence Rafferty and producer Vincent Malle and an interview with Louis Malle
Top Customer Reviews
The labyrinth story focuses first on illicit lovers Florence Carala, the restless wife of a corrupt arms dealer, and Julien Tavernier, a former war hero working for Florence's husband. There is not a wasted moment as they plot her husband's murder, but of course, things go awry with a forgotten piece of evidence and a running car ready to be taken. An amoral young couple, sullen and resentful Louis and free-spirited Veronique, enter the scene tangentially and get caught up in their own deceptions with a boisterous German couple whom they meet through a fender bender. The plot strands meander somewhat and eventually come together in a climax that has all the characters confronting the harsh reality of their past actions. There is a particular poignancy in the photos Florence sees at the end since we have no indication of the depth of emotion between the lovers otherwise.
Malle, along with co-screenwriter Roger Nimier, presents an interesting puzzle full of irony and chance events, but there is a periodic slackness to the suspense, for instance, Florence's endlessly despondent walk though nocturnal Paris.Read more ›
The plot revolves around two couples: Florence Carala (Moreau), her paramour Julien (Maurice Ronet) and two juvenile delinquents, Veronique (Yori Bertin) and Louis (Georges Poujouly)...who steal Julien's car. The quartet meet only at the conclusion of the film though their actions definitely affect each other earlier.
There is also intrigue involving Julien and Florence's husband Simon Carala (Jean Wall) and their participation in war profiteering in the Indochina War (it is 1957, after all). But the plot takes a back seat to the mise en scene as Malle's camera and the mood take precedence over plot development and plot logic.
"Elevator to the Gallows" (a very witty title, by-the-way) is at times breathtakingly beautiful to behold: Decae's moody camerawork and Miles Davis' score and trumpet work are brilliant. And as a precursor to the emotional depth, flash and profundity of what was soon to arrive, "Elevator to the Gallows" is an important piece of the wonderful puzzle that was to become the French New Wave a few years hence.
One of Malle's earliest films, "Elevator to the Gallows" has just been re-released. Shot in black and white, featuring Jeanne Moreau's first film role, and highlighted by a Miles Davis soundtrack, the film is a great example of Film Noir.
Florence (Jeanne Moreau) and Julien (Maurice Ronet) share a phone conversation that only two lovers in Paris can have; they make arrangements to meet later that evening. Julien, the second-in-command at a shady French corporation, asks the receptionist if she can stay a little late. They are working on a Saturday so Julien can finish a report for their boss, Carala to take with him to Geneva. The boss calls down and says he will be leaving to catch his train shortly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest french noir films with the most remarkable score.Published 1 month ago by Ellerie Ballard
Disc Two only contained one of the special features listed, so I am returning and hope the replacement will contain them all.would have given it 5 stars, otherwise. Read morePublished 3 months ago by SL
This title existed (in its original French) in my consciousness for over half a century only because it was the flip side of the Miles Davis album on Columbia entitled "Jazz... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sam Chell
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS is the first feature movie by Director Louis Malle. He was only 25. It was during the making of this movie Malle approached Miles Davis to improvise a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by a walther
Up front, I'm by no means a movie snob nor a person who actively seeks out foreign movies. I came upon this movie via Miles Davis. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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