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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 <email@example.com>
The former Captain Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) works in the company of the powerful arms dealer Simon Carala (Jean Wall) and is the lover of his wife Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau). Julien and Florence plot a scheme to kill Simon simulating a suicide. Julien stays after-hours in the company with the telephone operator and the doorman and comes to his office. He climbs to Simon's office using a rope outside the window and kills the executive. He runs to his office to attend a phone call and forgets the rope, and leaves the building with the two employees to have an alibi. When he is ready to drive his car, he sees the rope hanging outside the building and he returns to withdraw the rope, leaving his overcoat and revolver in the car. When he enters in the lift, the doorman shutdown the building and Julien is trapped inside the elevator.
Meanwhile the smalltime thief Louis (Georges Poujouly) steals Julien's car and drives to a motel with his girlfriend Véronique (Yori Bertin) and lodge using the name of Julien. They drink with the German tourists Horst Bencker (Iván Petrovich) and his wife Frieda Bencker (Elga Andersen) and early in the morning, Louis tries to steal his Mercedes Benz. When he is surprised by Horst, Louis shots and kills the couple. Julien Tavernier becomes the prime suspect of the murder and when he leaves the lift, he does not have alibi for the murder of Simon Carala and the German tourists.
"Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud" is the first feature of Louis Malle, who is also one of the writers. The unpredictable and original story is fantastic, the screenplay has many plot points until the very last scene and the performances are top-notch.
Julien Tavernier is a methodic military with cold blood that gets caught between the rock and a hard place due to a mistake and lots of bad luck. The soundtrack with the music of Miles Davis gives a touch of class to this little masterpiece. The result is one of the best thrillers entwined with comedy of errors that I have ever seen. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Ascensor Para o Cadafalso" ("Elevator to the Gallows")
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