Alain Leroy is having a course of treatment in a private hospital because of his problem with alcohol. Although he is constantly distressed, he leaves the hospital and tries to meet good ... See full summary »
A small town in the south-west of France, summer of 1944. Having failed to join the resistance, the 18 year old Lucien Lacombe, whose father is a prisoner in Germany and whose mother dates ... See full summary »
A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.
This merry farce depicts a satirical view of the French society: Ten-year-old Zazie has to stay two days with her relatives in Paris, so that her mother can spend some time with her lover. ... See full summary »
This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than... See full summary »
A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Miles Davis recorded the music with a quartet of French and US musicians in a few hours (from 11pm to 5am one night), improvising each number and allegedly sipping champagne with Jeanne Moreau and Louis Malle. See more »
As Julien walks along the balcony before throwing the rope, a crew member's reflection is visible in a window. See more »
Commissaire de police:
Anything's good for an alibi. Wives, girlfriends, bartenders, childhood friends, deceived husbands - but not an elevator. That's ridiculous. It's totally harebrained.
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A Film Noir Masterwork - Breathtaking to the Eye and the Ear
"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.
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