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Elevator to the Gallows

(Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)
France 1958. Dir: Louis Malle. 90 min. DCP

“I was split between my tremendous admiration for Robert Bresson and the temptation to make a Hitchcock-like film,” said Louis Malle of his stylish first feature, a gripping Gallic noir adapted from a suspense novel by French writer Noël Calef. Jeanne Moreau, in the role that made her a star, plays Florence, married lover of Julien (Maurice Ronet), an ex-military paratrooper. The tense, twisting plot has the pair plotting the “perfect” murder of Florence’s husband, a wealthy industrialist. The film, shot in authentic Paris locations, features gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Henri Decaë (a Malle and Melville regular) and a legendary improvised jazz score by Miles Davis. Malle’s moody movie won the Prix Louis-Delluc as the year’s best French film and is often cited as one of the seminal works of modern cinema and the French New Wave.

 

REVIEWS

"Legendary ... It has both the brisk craftsmanship and efficiency of classic French cinema and a breathless hint of the energy of the New Wave that was only a few years away."

LA Times | full review

"Crackling entertainment that’ll have you reaching for a pack of Gauloises."

Village Voice | full review