Elevator to the Gallows

1958, Mystery & thriller, 1h 30m

57 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Louis Malle's hypnotic debut is a noir with genuine soul, infusing its tale of best laid plans gone awry with wistful performances, swooning cinematography, and a sultry soundtrack. Read critic reviews

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Elevator to the Gallows Photos

Movie Info

Restless femme fatale Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) recruits her lover, Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet), to murder her wealthy husband, Simon (Jean Wall), in his office and make it appear like a suicide. Tavernier does the dirty deed eagerly, but becomes trapped in an elevator when he returns to remove a key piece of evidence he had accidentally left behind. Tavernier's unfortunate oversight sets into motion a dark ripple of events that bloodies the cold Paris night.

Cast & Crew

Jeanne Moreau
Florence Carala
Maurice Ronet
Julien Tavernier
Jean Wall
Simon Carala
Yori Bertin
Véronique
Lino Ventura
Le commissaire Cherrier
Elga Andersen
Frieda Bencker
Félix Marten
Christian Subervie
Robert Balpo
Un consommateur
Nicolas Bataille
Un consommateur à la brasserie
Noël Calef
Writer
Miles Davis
Original Music
Henri Decaë
Cinematographer
Léonide Azar
Film Editor
Jean Mandaroux
Art Direction
Rino Mondellini
Art Direction
Roger Nimier
Screenwriter
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News & Interviews for Elevator to the Gallows

Critic Reviews for Elevator to the Gallows

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (4)

  • A classic European film noir with an irresistible score by Miles Davis, it builds tension from a series of seemingly minor mistakes that echo the political/military context of the postwar era.

    September 1, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Elevator to the Gallows, killer stuff.

    August 26, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Elevator to the Gallows married a new kind of jazz to a new kind of cinema, and created something altogether sublime.

    August 25, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The film's alchemic blend of Bressonian rigor, Hitchcockian suspense, and overall proto-Nouvelle Vague cool more than compensates for its straightforward plotting ...

    August 2, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Lift to the Scaffold (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) was the perfect opening to the French New Wave in 1958, sashaying in to a jazz score from Miles Davis and starring Jeanne Moreau as a mistress-in-peril.

    September 23, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A classic European film noir with an irresistible score by Miles Davis, it builds tension from a series of seemingly minor mistakes that echo the political/military context of the postwar era.

    September 1, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Elevator to the Gallows, killer stuff.

    August 26, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Elevator to the Gallows married a new kind of jazz to a new kind of cinema, and created something altogether sublime.

    August 25, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The film's alchemic blend of Bressonian rigor, Hitchcockian suspense, and overall proto-Nouvelle Vague cool more than compensates for its straightforward plotting ...

    August 2, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    March 22, 2020 | Rating: 8/10
  • It's a compelling but gangly first film, with a few head-scratching plot holes, but those complaints seem insignificant in the glare of the Paris lights, the flare in Jeanne Moreau's eyes and the blare of Miles Davis' trumpet.

    March 31, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Elevator to the Gallows

  • Mar 08, 2021
    Cinema lovers should relish Louis Malle's minor masterpiece as it helped start the French New Wave movement. I love movies that take risks and this one certainly did, not the least of which was allowing jazz great Miles Davis and his musicians to improvise the soundtrack.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 2013
    Rating: 2 stars Arthouse Rating: 2.5 stars Elevator To The Gallows is the only truly acclaimed work of Malle that I've seen. While it was unique, following two criminal couples with baggage in France, it wasn't particularly good. For one everything felt to coincidental, everything happened at the wrong time, or right time depending on how you viewed the film. I was viewing it rooting against the protagonists. All four of them, I was cheering for the police. Therefore the ending actually did bring some joy to me. I doubt this is how Malle intended to deliver the film though. I also felt like the female performances were amateur. The men did alright, but the woman didn't seem convincing at all. I feel like my rating is a tad rough, but honestly I didn't catch the hype. I'm not saying it's overrated, just not of value to me. I will say though, some scenes looked gorgeous.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2012
    Damn good thriller. It's pretty clever how everything unfolds, and with also all those twists and turns, it's hard to guess how it's going to end. Brilliant debut for Louis Malle.
    Hugo S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2012
    Very stylish film with a very intriguing premise. Watching this film reminded me of the feeling I had when I watched Godard's Breathless. The cool protagonist and a seductive blonde as his partner, accompanied by a classy score, this is a film that epitomizes the French noir films of it's time. The one problem I had was when Louis cannot steal the German's Mercedes because the German hid something the first gear of the gearbox. After Louis kills him, he manages to drive away in the Mercedes without adjusting any gearbox or anything; it wasn't a huge deal but it was confusing. Although there is quite a break from convention, the ending does not manage to tie up all the loose ends in a completely logical and realistic manner. Malle does cover his tracks and there is not any inconsistency in the ending, however, it seemed a bit out of place with the rest of the film.
    G S Super Reviewer

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