Saturday, May 12, 2007

Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows

Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Elevator to the Gallows (1957/1958), a film noir masterpiece, includes a delectable soundtrack by Miles Davis. Jeanne Moreau is perfect as Florence Carala, the wife of a corporate executive who runs a business similar to Haliburton, i.e. one that exploits and profits from war. Florence is in love with Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet), former captain in the elite French airborne and veteran of Indochina and Algeria who now works for Monsieur Carala. The film begins when a plan to kill the boss-husband is set in motion. Tavernier, a trained professional killer-warrior, knows exactly how to proceed. But, of course, very little in life goes as planned. Elevator to the Gallows reminds me of "Pine Barrens" -- a particularly memorable Sopranos episode from 2001 -- in its one bad turn after another texture. The use of telephones, cars, a camera and three pistols is very clever, indeed. Beautifully shot and directed, nicely set to Miles Davis's background trumpet.

Rather than a star system, I'll go with a food rating system. Ascenseur pour l'échafaud is as enjoyable an experience as eating at a fine French restaurant -- if one likes richness, is in the mood for such a treat and can afford it, it's well worth the price of admission. If you don't like anything French, skip it.

Today's Rune: Flow.

Birthdays: Louis de Buade Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (b. Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti), Henry Cabot Lodge, Otto Frank, Archibald Cox, Jr., Julius Rosenberg, Burt Bacharach, Frank Stella, George Carlin, Ian Dury, Vanessa A. Williams.

Au revoir!

1 comment:

Princess Banter said...

I love watching French films -- sad to say, I can't do without the subtitles :(