Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'echafaud)

Jeanne Moreau coos "Je t'aime . . . je t'aime" directly to the viewer at the start of Louis Malle's 1957 thriller; for most movies, it would be strictly downhill from there. But Malle's feature debut, a crisp noir exercise about the unraveling of a perfect crime, has the paired virtues of black-and-white Parisian location shooting and Miles Davis' riveting dark-city score. The plot (an ex-paratrooper offs his lover's war-pig husband, only to get trapped in the titular conveyance) chortles a bit much over its ironic switcheroos -- especially a subplot involving a teenage Bonnie and Clyde that's a bunny-slope warm-up for Godard's Breathless three years later. But mood was always the big appeal of the French genre workouts that preceded the Nouvelle Vague, and the great cinematographer Henri Decaë (The 400 Blows) deepens the shadows as amour fou yields to constricting fate. And Moreau stalking Paris by night, accompanied only by Davis' trumpet, is a workable definition of cool. In French with English subtitles.


  • Louis Malle


  • Jeanne Moreau
  • Maurice Ronet
  • Georges Poujouly
  • Yori Bertin
  • Jean Wall
  • Elga Andersen
  • Sylviane Aisenstein
  • Micheline Bona
  • Gisele Grandpre
  • Jacqueline Staup


  • Noel Calef
  • Louis Malle


  • Jean Thuillier

Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'echafaud) is not showing in any theaters in the area.

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