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Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 29 January 1958 (France)
Trailer
1:49 | Trailer
A self-assured businessman murders his employer, the husband of his mistress, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events.

Director:

Louis Malle

Writers:

Roger Nimier (adaptation), Louis Malle (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeanne Moreau ... Florence Carala
Maurice Ronet ... Julien Tavernier
Georges Poujouly ... Louis
Yori Bertin ... Véronique
Jean Wall ... Simon Carala
Elga Andersen ... Frieda Bencker
Sylviane Aisenstein Sylviane Aisenstein ... Yvonne, La fille du bar
Micheline Bona Micheline Bona ... Geneviève
Gisèle Grandpré Gisèle Grandpré ... Jacqueline Mauclair
Jacqueline Staup Jacqueline Staup ... Anna
Marcel Cuvelier Marcel Cuvelier ... Le réceptionniste du motel
Gérard Darrieu Gérard Darrieu ... Maurice
Charles Denner ... L'adjoint du commissaire Cherrier
Hubert Deschamps ... Le substitut du procureur
Jacques Hilling Jacques Hilling ... Le garagiste
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Storyline

Florence Carala and her lover, Julien Tavernier, want to murder her husband - Julien's boss - by faking his suicide. But after Julien's killed him, and had left, he remembers he's forgotten the rope outside the window which could implicate him, and he returns to the building to remove it Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most tense, taut 24 hours that ever confronted a woman and her lover. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Rialto Pictures

Country:

France

Language:

French | German

Release Date:

29 January 1958 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Elevator to the Gallows See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,354, 26 June 2005

Gross USA:

$374,671

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$431,784
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Louis Malle: mistakes Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) for a prostitute during her nocturnal walk. See more »

Goofs

During the opening, Julien is seen in his office in the middle of the front-side. Later he is coming from the south-east end walking to middle to climb up. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

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

Soundtracks

L'Assassinat De Carala
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

 
A Film Noir Masterwork - Breathtaking to the Eye and the Ear
29 August 2005 | by noraleeSee 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.


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