Watched this again, with the same pleasure. Characters are dumb, plot is silly? If you think this is your trivial thriller then yes. However this is a fake crime film about people who don't give a hoot. And the fact that no one gives a hoot is wonderfully plotted and played out. Only feeling matters, says Moreau wandering thru the night, and the hell with plans and ploys. It's the end of the world every day.
Elevator to the Gallows is a film with singular style. In my opinion, Miles Davis' sultry trumpet lays the foundation for the greatest soundtrack of all time. Jeanne Moreau is able to say so much through her facial expressions. The film's components are nothing short of stunning.
Louis Malle, a valedictorian in French cinema in the late 50s who could never fully match the magical quality of his debut feature. One could have a field day picking at the film's lack of continuity, its inconsequential temporal shifts, its fragmented causality. Then you realise that it is indicative of an emerging New Wave school of thought inherent in the work of Truffaut, Godard, Becker and Melville. Marvellous.
I've heard the claim that jazz music wasn't synonymous with noir films until after this film came out, or films like M Squad with music by Count Basie in the following year. Is it true that the jazz failed to enter noir until the late 1950's? Anyone know? Either way - despite its flaws, this is a wonderful old flick by Louis Malle.
I remember that Godard once said, in his overgeneralizing way, that the French don't know how to tell stories. So it's worth noting that Gallows has innumerable plot hiccups that any Hollywood hack screenwriter would know should be fixed. (To whit, characters are stunningly, inconsistently dumb). But it gets politics and romance right, and the idea of never letting the lovers share a scene is a brilliant conceit.
Technically impressive and elegantly plotted, but in a programmatic way that allows for few grace notes. Still compelling. Weakest element: Moreau's voiceover, articulating thoughts and subtext we can easily infer. Best element: Miles, duh.
A skillful construction of mishaps that uses its irony in such a way that even the most explosive petards never really feel funny, instead deepening the sense of postwar, pre-New Wave cynicism that hangs over the film. Davis' score is beautiful on CD, but in context it's one of his most pained, lonely works. A great film.
The first Louis Malle film I saw and probably my favorite so far. The tone and mood of this film is perfect, largely due to Miles Davis' score. I would actually put this above Godard's "Breathless" and that is saying a lot because Godard is my favorite director of all time.