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Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 29 January 1958 (France)
1:49 | Trailer

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A self-assured businessman 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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Cast overview, first billed only:
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 ...
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 <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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 USA:

$7,354, 26 June 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$109,257, 16 December 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The tiny camera is Minox. It was originally developed as a luxury item, but it gained notoriety from its use as a spy camera. See more »


When Julien is hanging from the cable and the elevator suddenly starts moving down the shaft, there is a shot of him where the walls around him aren't moving as they should. See more »


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


Featured in The Miles Davis Story (2001) See more »


Julien Dans L'Ascenseur
Composed by Miles Davis
Performed by Miles Davis (Trumpet), Barney Wilen (Tenor Saxophone), René Urtreger (Piano), Pierre Michelot (Bass) and Kenny Clarke (Drums)
See more »

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User Reviews

25 April 2011 | by See all my reviews

No need to recap the plot. The movie really represents a triumph of form over content. Seldom have I seen a smoother technique than director Malle shows here. The transition from scene to scene is almost seamless and keeps the viewer engaged regardless what's developing plot-wise. Then too, Decae's camera work shows how compelling natural lighting can be. The overall effect is one of effortless fluidity, a style well suited to lyrical subjects.

The trouble is the material itself is better suited to Hollywood B-movie techniques. In short, the material is jagged, while Malle's style is smooth, resulting unfortunately in a thriller drained of inherent drama. Note, for example, the elevator sequence, a predicament fairly bursting with suspenseful potential. Yet Malle's style does little to heighten the implicit desperation and even cuts away (though smoothly) from the mounting tension. To be fair, Ronet (Tavernier) adds nothing by remaining impassive throughout. (Perhaps paratroopers never sweat.) Thus the movie's dramatic centerpiece flattens out into just one more event among many.

Then there are the various misadventures of the free-spirited kids. They look cuddly, but remain amoral cyphers throughout, their double homicide coming across again as just one more event, no more important than Florence's (Moreau) dispirited walk up the avenue. In fact, the one time Malle highlights with his camera is that lengthy trudge through Paris, a director clearly fascinated by Moreau's distinctive appearance. Again, the style is smooth and polished, but also highly impersonal and homogenizing. I kept wishing one of Hollywood's noir masters like Nicholas Ray or Billy Wilder had gotten hold of the material first.

No need to go on apart from Malle about a sloppy script with its number of plot holes helpfully cited by other reviewers, or about overlooked details like a bullet to the head that raises no blood. All in all, I wonder how many folks would celebrate the film if it were not from France with Malle's name on it. Apart from its influence on French cinema, the movie does not wear well over time. Moreover, given the style he shows here, it's no surprise to me that Malle's breakthrough movie would be titled The Lovers rather than this over-civilized slice of thick ear.

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