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Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
"Ascenseur pour l'échafaud" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  29 January 1958 (France)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 12,567 users   Metascore: 92/100
Reviews: 78 user | 100 critic | 12 from

A self-assured business man murders his employer, the husband of his mistress, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events.



(adaptation), (adaptation), 3 more credits »
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Title: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yori Bertin ...
Jean Wall ...
Simon Carala
Elga Andersen ...
Frieda Bencker
Sylviane Aisenstein ...
Yvonne, La fille du bar
Micheline Bona ...
Gisèle Grandpré ...
Jacqueline Mauclair
Jacqueline Staup ...
Marcel Cuvelier ...
Le réceptionniste du motel
Gérard Darrieu ...
L'adjoint du commissaire Cherrier
Hubert Deschamps ...
Le substitut du procureur
Jacques Hilling ...
Le garagiste


Florence Carala and her lover Julien Tavernier, an ex - paratrooper want to murder her husband by faking a suicide. But after Julien has killed him and he puts his things in his car, he finds he has forgotten the rope outside the window and he returns to the building to remove it... Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rope | murder | german | alibi | thief | See All (152) »


More Hitchcock Than Hitchcock! See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

29 January 1958 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Elevator to the Gallows  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,354 (USA) (24 June 2005)


$263,404 (USA) (16 December 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The German tourists' Mercedes-Benz 300SL W198 "Gullwing" was the fastest production car of its day. It is the first production car with direct fuel injection, which is why the characters mention that the engine has no carburetors. See more »


As Julien walks along the balcony before throwing the rope, a crew member's reflection is visible in a window. See more »


Le commissaire Cherrier: you see madam there are always several photos in a camera
See more »


Referenced in Broken Embraces (2009) See more »


Played by:
Miles Davis - trumpet
Barney Wilen - tenor saxophone
Rene Urtreger - piano
Pierre Michelot - contrabass
Kenny Clarke - drums
See more »

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User Reviews

A Film Noir Masterwork - Breathtaking to the Eye and the Ear
29 August 2005 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)" is a master work, so it's startling to learn that it was Louis Malle's first feature. It's a mother lode textbook of how-to for noir genre filmmakers as he creates his own style from what he's learned from other masters.

Malle pays tribute to the tense murder style of Hitchcock with Billy Wilder's cynicism of selfishness a la "Double Indemnity" plus Graham Greene-like, post-war politics from "The Third Man"-- and arms and oil dealers with military pasts in the Middle East are not outdated let alone adulterous lovers and rebellious teenagers.

The film drips with sex and violence without actually showing either -- sensuous Jeanne Moreau walking through a long, rainy Paris night is enough to incite both.

The black and white cinematography by Henri Decaë is breathtakingly beautiful in this newly struck 35 mm print, from smokey cafés with ever watchful eyes like ours to the titular, ironic alibi's long shafts (which surely must have inspired a key, far paler scene in "Speed") to highway lights, to a spare interrogation box, but particularly in the street scenes. The coincidences and clues are built up, step by step, visually, including the final damning evidence.

Miles Davis's improvisations gloriously and agitatedly burst forth as if pouring from the cafés and radios, but the bulk of the film is startlingly silent, except for ambient sounds like rain that adds to the tension in the plot.

The characters are archetypes -- the steely ex-Legonnaire, the James Dean and Natalie Wood imitators, the preening prosecutor -- that fit together in a marvelous puzzle. But all are cool besides Moreau's fire, as she dominates the look of the film, just wandering around Paris.

There is some dialog that doesn't quite make sense at the end, but, heck, neither does "The Big Sleep" and this is at least in that league, if not higher in the pantheon.

60 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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