Sunday Matinee: Elevator To The Gallows

Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) and his lover, the married Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) plot to kill Florence’s husband who is also Julien’s boss.

While the husband is working late Saturday night, Julien sneaks up the outside of the building using a rope and shoots and kills the husband. He then makes it look like a suicide. Julien leaves the building, starting his car and then notices that he left the rope hanging from the side of the building.

Julien leaves his still running car and runs back into the building taking the elevator. The caretaker around the same moment turns off the power to the elevator trapping Julien. Then young lovers steal Julien’s running car. Florence sees Julien’s car drive past with a young woman in it thinking that Julien has run off with another woman. Julien meanwhile is still trapped in the elevator.

The young couple end up going to a motel where they sign in under Julien’s name and buddy up to another couple. Then things go wrong for everyone.

This was director Louis Malle’s first feature film and helped kick start the French New Wave movement. The movie itself owes to elements of Film Noir. It’s dark and shadowy with a cool grittiness. Miles Davis created the film score. I love this movie, everything goes wrong the minute that Julien is trapped in the elevator. Criterion is releasing the movie on blu-ray in February and its definitely well worth watching. Brilliant cinema.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.

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