3 items from 2014
Louis Malle's brash debut, now on rerelease, about a wealthy married woman who hatches a criminal plot is a brilliant, preposterous slice of noir suspense
Two years before Breathless, before Godard was talking about needing a girl and a gun, 26-year-old Louis Malle unveiled this brash debut: a brilliant, preposterous slice of noir-suspense realism and Highsmithian mistaken identity, imbued with the poetry of romantic despair, mostly voiced directly into the camera by Jeanne Moreau – a captivating kind of choric-fatale, with dark sensuous shadows under the eyes. She is a wealthy married woman, Mme Florence Cabala, who in this era when capital punishment (the "scaffold") was very much on France's statute book, hatches the imperfect crime with her lover, ex‑paratrooper Julien (Maurice Ronet). Chaotically, their paths cross with gamine florist's assistant, Véronique (Yori Bertin), and her teen boyfriend, Louis (Georges Poujouly). They are the younger generation, contemptuous of their »
- Peter Bradshaw
Directed by Louis Malle.
A self-assured business man murders his employer, the husband of his adulterer, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events.
The stuck-in-a-lift plot device grabs your attention. The opening action-sequence of Speed; Emilio Estevez’s short-lived role in Mission: Impossible and the Shyamalan-penned Devil. The claustrophobic, metallic space automatically creates a sense of urgency and tension. The silver-box, hanging by a taught, tight wire seems so fragile and yet it remains the spine of the modern skyscraper – who would walk up so many flights of stairs and remain, effortlessly cool?
- Gary Collinson
Rereleased this week, Louis Malle’s Lift to the Scaffold remains an enduring example of the invigorating cinema produced in France during the late 1950’s. A sophisticated noir, punctuated by a vivacious score courtesy of jazz legend Miles Davis, Lift to the Scaffold is teeming with the type of aesthetic and narrative innovations that would contribute to the future development of French cinema.
Ex-paratrooper Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) is seen leaving his office, not conventionally through the door, but instead out of the window. Dexterously clambering up the side of the building like a cat burglar, he breaks into the office of Carala (Jean Wall) his boss and the husband of his lover Florence (Jeanne Moreau). Julian kills him with little fuss and sets about making the incident look like a suicide. However, whilst clambering into his car he realizes he has left a rope dangling out of the window. »
- Patrick Gamble
3 items from 2014
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