Elevator to the Gallows
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, French thriller, colour, 1958, by Louis Malle, Language: English, Subtitles: Hungarian 92'
Directed by Louis Malle
Screenplay by Roger Nimier, Louis Malle, Noël Calef
Director of photography: Henri Decaë
Music by Miles DavisCast: Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin, Jean Wall, Elga Andersen
Production: Rialto Pictures
Elevator to the Gallows is basically a variation on The Postman Always Rings Twice, that is, the story of a couple ready to kill for their love. Its added twist is that the murderer, Julien, gets stuck in the lift and thus is late for the arranged meeting, while Florence spends the night wandering through Paris. This is from the era when jazz came into its own, represented by one of its very best: Miles Davis, whose trumpet music accompanies the entire film. Paris at the time was overrun with outstanding jazz performers, many of whom ultimately settled down there. Miles Davis’ quiet, melancholy music is one of the greatest achievements of this era. The black-and-white images portray the fall of a couple attempting to commit the perfect crime as an event which is not tragic. When Julien points his gun at the victim’s head, he tells him to respect war, and says that the victim should pay for Indochina and for Algeria. Accordingly, the viewer cannot pity him, and sympathises instead with the protagonist couple who, as the music seems to imply, accept their fates.