Movie Review: Elevator to the Gallows

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I watched Elevator to the Gallows over the weekend and found this Louis Malle film-noir to be a fascinating movie, full of ironies and unexpected twists. Shot in a beautiful black and white, this French film from 1958 features a great soundtrack by the legendary Miles Davis. It has a rightful place as one of the best film-noirs ever.

The movie opens with a frenzied phone call between two people and then spirals into a twisted web of murder, deceit, lies, bad luck and bad timing.  Two young lovers become enmeshed in their own problems, especially when he steals a car.  His fatalistic outlook on the future becomes an important plot point, in ways that are hard to anticipate and yet deliciously ironic. But, as they are fond of saying in Shakespeare in Love, "It'll all work out in the end."

Wow, what a fun ride this movie was!  Just when you might think someone might actually get away with something, you see them get pulled back in, sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones. Luck, both good and bad, plays an important part in Elevator, but not so much that it feels forced.  It is hard to believe it was Malle's very first film, as it shows a surehandedness surprising for someone new to the director's chair.

All four of the main actors did a great job, but I found Yori Bertin to be incredibly cute as Veronique, the flower girl who adores the high powered businessman, Algerian veteran, and murderer Julien Tavernier and who gets involved when her boyfriend steals Julien's car.  She went on to do only a few more films, but her pixish innocence really propels the sidestory of the doomed lovers, counterpointing nicely the doomed adulterers. Truly a must see movie for any noir fans.



4 Comments

Sounds like a good one.  I'm adding it to my Netflix queue.

Wonderful movie.Strange, and very French.Great old cars :-)I'm stunned that you make no metion of Jeanne Moreau!

True, I should've mentioned her, but the flower girl was more interesting to me. It's funny - a trivia note on IMDB mentions that some film guys refused to work with Malle when they saw how Moreau was being filmed, but they relented when the recognized how realistic it was.

This may have been mentioned earlier, but Jeanne Moreau is in a version of Dangerous liaisons that is amazing.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on May 7, 2007 9:00 AM.

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