Sunday, July 16, 2017

Elevated Discourse

Elevator to the Gallows (1957) is a nice French noir from Louis Malle. It goes like this:

Maurice Ronet is setting something up over the phone with Jeanne Moreau. He is an ex-paratrooper who works for Moreau's husband Jean Wall, and they have a plan to kill him. Later that day, when everyone in the business has gone home except boss, the receptionist, and a security guard, he tells them he is not to be disturbed, goes out on his balcony, climbs up a storey, and kills wall, setting it up as a suicide. He then climbs down to his office, and heads home with the last few workers as his alibi.

But when he gets back to his car, he notices that he forgot the rope he used to climb up. But while he's taking the elevator up to his office, the security guard cuts the power and locks up. He's stuck in the elevator.

Meanwhile, a girl and her hood boyfriend steal his car, go for a joy ride, and find the gun in the glovebox. Also meanwhile, Moreau is waiting for Ronet at their rendezvous and beginning to get desperate. She leaves the cafe and begins searching Paris for her lover.

Although this is a tense thriller, it has a lot of odd digressions - the juvenile delinquents joy-riding, and Moreau haunting late-night Paris. The Moreau sections seem especially peculiar to me, in that they add basically nothing to the story. She goes from bar to pool hall. looking in windows, getting rained on, getting propositioned, despairing more and more. Since it is Jeanne Moreau, it is easy to understand why Malle wants to film her: She is beautiful. Some of the other threads take a little time to pay off.

In conclusion, Miles Davis does a sweet improvised soundtrack, with a nice band including drummer Kenny Clarke, who solos over a few scenes.

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