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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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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:

More Hitchcock Than Hitchcock! 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

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 »

Goofs

After being released from the lift, Julien is running to his car. If not been stolen, it would have been out of petrol after the engine was running the whole night. Furthermore it would have been quite wet inside after the heavy thunderstorm with the roof open. See more »

Quotes

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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Journey Through French Cinema (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Ascenseur Pour L'Échafaud (Générique)
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

 
The black cat has it...
1 March 2014 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (AKA: Elevator to the Gallows/Lift to the Scaffold) is directed by Louis Malle and co-written by Malle, Roger Nimier and Noël Calef (novel). It stars Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin and Jean Wall. Music is by Miles Davis and cinematography by Henri Decaë.

A little ole devil this one, a sly slow pacer that itches away at your skin. Rightly seen as a bridging movie between the classic film noir cycle and the nouvelle vague, Malle's movie is in truth straightforward on narrative terms. Julien Tavernier (Ronet) is going to kill husband of his lover, Florence Carala (Moreau), who also happens to be his boss, but upon executing the perfect murder, he, through his own absent mindedness, winds up stuck in a lift close to the crime scene. Outside Florence is frantically awaiting his arrival so as to begin their life together in earnest, but when a couple of young lovers steal Julien's car, Florence gets the wrong end of the stick and a sequence of events lead to Julien and Florence hitching that ride to the gallows.

Simplicity of narrative be damned, Malle's movie is a classic case of that mattering not one jot. There is style to burn here, with bleak atmospherics dripping from every frame, and Miles Davis' sultry jazz music hovers over proceedings like a sleazy grim reaper. The ironic twists in the writing come straight off the bus to noirville, putting stings in the tale, the smart reverse of the norm finding Moreau (sensual) wandering the streets looking for her male lover, while elsewhere he's in isolation and a doppleganger murder scenario is cunningly being played out. Decaë's photography has a moody desperation about it that so fits the story, the use of natural light making fellow French film makers sit up and take notice. While the dialogue, and the caustic aside to arms dealings, ensures we know that Malle can be a sly old fox. He really should have done more noir like pictures.

A film that convinces us that Julien and Florence are deeply in love and passionate about each other, and yet they never are once together in the whole movie! It's just one of the many wonderful things about Louis Malle's excellent picture.

Remember folks, the camera never lies... 9/10


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