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Elevator to the Gallows-DVD Review *** 11/18/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, French language film, Highly recommended, Louis Malle, Miles Davis, Movies, Prix Louis Delluc, Suspense, Thriller.
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Elevator to the Gallows (French) 1957
Ascenseur pour l’échafaud

From the Criterion Collection

WINNER, Prix Louis Delluc (Louis Malle), France

Directed by Louis Malle
Starring Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Yori Bertin, and Georges Poujouly
Score by Miles Davis

The musical score lends a special air of suspense to this thriller about Julien (Ronet) and Florence (Moreau), a couple planning to murder Florence’s husband, and Veronique (Bertin) and Louis (Poujouly), a young couple who don’t seem capable of planning anything, but leave a trail of crimes behind them. Hauntingly filmed in black and white, the style is reminiscent of Hitchcock, with a decidedly French sensibility.

Amazingly, this is the debut feature film by the late legendary French director Louis Malle (Murmurs of the Heart), filmed when he was only twenty-four years old. He had previously spent several years creating underwater films for Jacques Cousteau. Malle’s collaboration with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis for the film’s musical score has also become legendary. (Watch the Special Features for an inside look at Davis’s improvisation process.) Jeanne Moreau’s movie career went on to great success after her performance in this film.

Highly recommended.

92 min. Unrated. Adult themes.

For more info about the film:
Elevator to the Gallows (The Criterion Collection)

For a remastered recording of the score:
Lift to the Scaffold (Reis) (Rstr) (Dig)

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