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  • Criterion Coll: Elevator to the Gallows [DVD] [1957] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Criterion Coll: Elevator to the Gallows [DVD] [1957] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Price: £21.91
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Dispatched from and sold by RAREWAVES USA.
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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Criterion Coll: Elevator to the Gallows [DVD] [1957] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Lift to the scaffold
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Product details

  • Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin, Jean Wall
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Louis Malle, Noël Calef, Roger Nimier
  • Producers: Jean Thuillier
  • Format: Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 25 April 2006
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5LEVA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,408 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nelkin on 23 July 2007
Format: DVD
An enjoyable black-and-white French thriller from the late fifties, featuring all the usual themes of the film noir genre: love and betrayal, murder, fatalism, seedy glamour, unlikely plot twists, and so forth. It was Louis Malle's directorial debut and Jeanne Moreau's first leading role in a feature film, and was a big commercial success at the time -- neither of them looked back after this. It was also distinguished by an excellent soundtrack, composed by Miles Davis in his usual ad-hoc manner using a pick-up band of musicians he was barely even on first-name terms with. Nowadays the connection between jazz and film noir seems obvious -- a cliche, even -- but that has a lot to do with the success of this film, and the excellent marriage of music and action achieved by Miles Davis and his musicians.

For a film nearly fifty years old, I must say it has aged well, even if some of the plot devices are a bit clunky. Visually it's a treat, with very stylish camera work. I particularly like the night shots of Paris early in the film, with Jeanne Moreau wandering blindly around in the rain looking for her lover; I also enjoyed the (highly stylised) interrogation sequence near the end, which I'm sure has little resemblance to real interrogation but which captures superbly the isolation and disorientation of the male protagonist. Some people lump this film in with the Nouvelle Vague scene that became fashionable a few years later, and maybe in some respects there is a bit of a family resemblance; Malle, though, always resisted attempts to classify him as part of the Nouvelle Vague movement.

I should add that the extra features are a bit meagre compared with what we're accustomed to on DVD releases these days.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 6 Feb. 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud along with Les Mistons and Et Dieu...Crea La Femme is seen as the birth of the French New Wave, shortly after this films such as A Bout de Souffle and Les Quatre Cents Coups followed. As Breathless, Bande a Part & Shoot the Pianist, this is heavily inflected with the influence of the Film Noir mode in Hollywood- Lift to the Scaffold not being dissimilar to such films as Double Indemnity & The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Maurice Ronet plays Julien Tavernier- an ex-Army officer who had been involved in Algeria- he is having an affair with his boss's wife (Jeanne Moreau) & they have a plan to murder her husband. The perfect plan is put into practice, with a nice nod towards the ethics of the arms trade, the only problem being a ringing phone & a forgotten detail. As Tavernier is about to make the perfect exit he sees the missing link, returns to the building...& is trapped in the lift in the building where the corpse is waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile Tavernier's car is stolen by a young couple, seen by Moreau, & their adventure leads to a German couple, some champagne, a photograph & a gun...
Lift to the Scaffold works very well as a thriller, Miles Davis' brilliant soundtrack (improvised to images, the musical equivalent of the New Wave approach to film) compounds this feeling- one scene where Tavernier dangles from a lift is as adrenaline fuelled as anything like Die Hard. There are some great twists, as with Postman/Twice there is an ironic twist regarding murder- though I'm thinking more of Cain's book- where the protoganist is found guilty of an accident, but innocent of the murder he committed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 April 2007
Format: DVD
This was Louis Malle's first. Previously he had worked with Jacques Cousteau on "The Silent World" (interestingly enough) and now tried his hand at film noir. Several things fell into place to make this debut a memorable one.

First, he was able to get Jeanne Moreau to play Florence Carala. She had previously been mostly a stage and B-movie player who was obviously very talented, but as Malle put it, not considered really photogenic. What she becomes after her performance here is a premier star of the French cinema partially because of the way she is photographed, and partly because she was so perfectly suited to the character, which I suspect she helped to create. She does a lot silently or with just a few words in the scenes where she walks the streets of Paris, frantic because her lover and fellow murder conspirator, Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) has stood her up and she cannot understand what has happened.

Second, Malle's collaboration with screenwriter and novelist Roger Nimier adapting a roman thriller by Noel Calef to the screen turned out to be exactly right for the material, especially because they used mostly just the plot of the novel and expanded Moreau's role.

The third factor was the fortuitous jazz score by Miles Davis. Davis happened to be in Paris as the movie was being edited and Malle was able to talk him into doing a trumpet-centered original score, said to have been composed on the fly late one night and early the next morning as Moreau drank champagne and listened.

"Ascenseur pour l'echafaud," like so many American film noirs that it frankly resembles, is a murder done for love and money gone wrong. It is both a mistake by the murderer and fate itself that traps Julien Tavernier.
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