Elevator to the Gallows
(Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)

elevator to the gallows

Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)
Made in: France
Language: French
Director: Louis Malle
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Yori Bertin, Georges Poujouly, Jean Wall
Year: 1958

Synopsis: Former paratrooper and hardened veteran Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet), is a sharp businessman who's having a passionate affair with Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau). Tavernier comes up with an elaborate scheme to kill Carala's husband, Simon (Jean Wall), who also happens to be Tavernier's boss.

But a simple plan goes horribly awry when Julien gets trapped in an elevator that unexpectedly shuts down. This sets off another sequence of events involving a stupid young punk named Louis (Georges Poujouly), and his girlfriend Véronique (Yori Bertin), as they embark on an adventure full of misunderstandings, murder, and irony.

The Good: Set against a cool music score by jazz legend Miles Davis, This is a film noir-styled thriller with an interesting storyline. The twists are intriguing and having been made in 1958, the look of the time period itself works as point of interest while being viewed in the 21st Century.

Director Louis Malle frames plenty of great-looking shots, and the use of the now-classic Mercedes 300L (with gull-wing doors) provides a sense of coolness that can only be appreciated in our modern age.

At just over 90 minutes, the film is at just the right length. The editing is masterful, and the movie utilizes an effective sense of subtlety that we don't see too much of anymore.

The Bad: A few of the things that happen look embarrassingly dated, and aren't believable.

Who would like this movie: Elevator to the Gallows is for you if you like foreign films. But I'd also recommend this one to fans of film noir and classic Hollywood cinema in general. And again, Miles Davis' score does a lot to make the film memorable.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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