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Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (Lift to the Scaffold) (Frantic)

Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (Lift to the Scaffold) (Frantic) (1958)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

91

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 5,691

My Rating

Movie Info

The feature-film debut of famed director Louis Malle is an interesting, modern film noir with the classic theme of lovers plotting to kill the husband and make it look like suicide (reminiscent of The Postman Always Rings Twice). Jeanne Moreau, as Florence Carala, gives an astonishing performance, perverse but naive as she leads her young lover down a path that can only lead to doom for both of them. Malle and his cinematographer Henri Decae make extensive use of Paris at night, giving the film

Apr 25, 2006

Rialto Pictures

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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (4) | DVD (11)

Efficient but soulless.

April 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Elevator to the Gallows is a treat for the film buff. Watching Moreau and Malle as they discover each other and a new trend in filmmaking, and listening to Miles Davis during their quest will remind you of what movies are all about.

March 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A suspense thriller with a tense, jazzy score and a rich undercurrent of fatalistic irony.

October 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Henri Decaë's black-and-white cinematography brings out the melancholy mystery of Paris' boulevards and cafes, and Ms. Moreau, shot with natural lighting and without make-up, is like a mournful goddess of glamour.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A straightforward but classy thriller.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The plot crackles with energy and misdirection, while the black-and-white film sharpens angles and amplifies the shadows lurking in every hallway.

October 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Louis Malle's supremely stylish New Wave thriller combines Miles Davis's music, Henri Decae's wonderfully evocative black-and-white cinematography of Paris and plenty of close-ups of a young Jeanne Moreau looking very anguished.

February 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

Malle made his feature directorial debut with this assured thriller, which recalled both the poetic realism of Marcel Carné and the brooding menace of American films noirs.

February 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

What a supremely stylish and watchable picture it is.

February 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Few debuts come punchier, cooler, and more influential than Louis Malle's 1958 thriller about a Parisian murder plan unravelling, scene by fateful scene.

February 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Its constituent parts are great, but just don't come together to make a coherent and satisfying movie.

February 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Striking to look at, with each frame resembling an intricately designed photograph ...

February 3, 2014 Full Review Source: Electric Sheep
Electric Sheep

The ambition is bracing, but critical hindsight obscures how exciting Malle's noir thriller is on its own terms.

February 3, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Louis Malle's brilliant feature directorial debut is a stylish film noir, boasting great jazz score and impressive performance from the young Jeanne Moreau.

January 4, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

the score by Miles is a remarkable one, tapping into the jazzy zeitgeist of the time

August 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

It's devilishly clever, bleakly hilarious, and fatalistically romantic throughout, a celebration of grand, doomed gestures made for the sake of making them.

November 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Made almost 50 years ago, the black-and-white French classic still grabs you by the throat.

October 5, 2006 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Director-writer Louis Malle's first feature at 26 is a stylish French New Wave noir-ish thriller that never satisfies as much as it should.

July 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Malle has a real knack for showing off the nasty side of humanity

May 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

a perfect hybrid of French noir elegance and the New Wave's rough hewn realism

April 20, 2006 Full Review
I.E. Weekly

It's easy to see why this is a classic. It's got a great story, pacing that keeps you on your toes, decent performances, and a style that's timeless.

April 7, 2006 Full Review Source: TheMovieChicks.com

"Gallows" was Malle's first film at the age of 24, and you can sense his eagerness to start pushing and kicking at the rigid noir plot structure to see what happens.

April 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Audience Reviews for Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (Lift to the Scaffold) (Frantic)

Many elements of this film were breakthroughs - and it is a wicked cool film. But... I can't help thinking it was a little slight and really relied on those very elements - Jeanne Moreau's haunting performance, the brilliant camerawork and Miles' genius score to carry it. What am I saying? Never mind.
August 10, 2007
brooklynspo

Super Reviewer

Elevator to the Gallows is a solid French thriller, that is very similar to Hitchcock movies. There's a lot of suspense, but no twists and turns. We are told everything that it is going on, but there's still a lot of suspense. All of the performances are very good especially Jeanne Moreau. Miles Davis' score is fantastic and suits the movie well. When people say, "they don't make them like they used to;" this is the type of movie that they are referring to.
June 20, 2011
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Clever, atmospheric thriller with a fine Miles Davis score.
February 3, 2011
jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

a hitchcockian thriller that was not only malle's first film but an anomaly in that he never touched the genre again. what he accomplished with this film at 24 years old is remarkable in that so few other crime stories have ever touched the flawless execution and tension building that we find in this film. the miles davis score is perfect as a tone setter considering he recorded the entire thing in one day. the way the film was shot, the intricacies of the plot, and the excellent acting all come together to form a perfect movie. usually in noir style films the detective character is an emphasis, but the great lino ventura blends into this highly detailed story in an appropriately subtle way. a masterpiece of film making.
January 31, 2010
sanjurosamurai
danny d

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Fahrstuhl zum Schafott (DE)
  • Lift to the Scaffold (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) (UK)
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