one of France’s most celebrated stars, a dynamic and fascinating woman who defines an era of brilliant cinematic achievement.
When people gave Louis Malle credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows (1958) immediately followed by The Lovers (1958), he would point out that Moreau by that time had already been “recognized as the prime stage actress of her generation.” She had made it to the Comédie Française in her 20s. She had appeared in B-movie thrillers with Jean Gabin and Ascenseur was in that genre. The technicians at the film lab went to the producer after seeing the first week of dailies for Ascenseur and said: “You must not let Malle destroy Jeanne Moreau”. Malle explained: “She was lit only by the windows of the Champs Elysées. That had never been done. Cameramen would have forced her to wear a lot of make-up and they would put a lot of light on her, because, supposedly, her face was not photogenic”. This lack of artifice revealed Moreau’s “essential qualities: she could be almost ugly and then ten seconds later she would turn her face and would be incredibly attractive. But she would be herself”.