Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) (1958) - Rotten Tomatoes

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



Critic 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.

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 the feel of claustrophobia and desperation reminiscent of the classic noir films. The excellent score by Miles Davis adds to the entire effect of this mystery thriller. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

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Maurice Ronet
as Julien Tavernier
Jeanne Moreau
as Florence Carala
Jean Wall
as Simon Carala
Félix Marten
as Subervie
Lino Ventura
as Insp. Cherter
Yori Bertin
as Veronique
Elga Andersen
as Mme. Bencker
Micheline Bona
as Genevieve
Charles Denner
as Inspector Cherier's assistant
Hubert Deschamps
as Attorny of State
Jacques Hilling
as Garage owner
Iván Petrovich
as Horst Bencker
Jean-Claude Brialy
as Chess player at motel
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Critic Reviews for Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (27)

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…
Top 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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

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.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Clever, atmospheric thriller with a fine Miles Davis score.

jay nixon
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.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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