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Louis Malle's brilliant debut feature stars an impossibly glamorous Jeanne Moreau as an iron-willed adulterer who engineers the perfect murder to escape from her stifling marriage.
Louis Malle's brilliant debut feature, considered by many critics to be the first work of the Nouvelle Vague, Elevator to the Gallows marked the first pairing of Malle and Jeanne Moreau, who would reunite for three more films, including Le Feu follet. "Made in a tense yet velvety style" (Pauline Kael), Elevator is a stylish policier, set to the moody jazz of Miles Davis and photographed with glistening elegance by Henri Decäe, Jean-Pierre Melville's favourite cinematographer. The impossibly glamorous and sullen Moreau is steel will encased in a black silk sheath as a woman intent upon engineering the perfect murder to escape her stifling marriage. (Her slow walk through Paris streets looks like a test run for her famous wanderings in Antonioni's La Notte.) Intended as an homage to Robert Bresson, whom Malle admired for his "precision, discretion, truth and authenticity," Elevator to the Gallows is also markedly Melvillian in its cynicism. (Melville: "Where you have two, one will betray.") "A terrific thriller! Moreau is radiant!" (Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times).