Clare's Criterion Collection

Here Is My Criterion Collection. See What I Have Bought & Read My Reviews. Follow Me As I Explore My Collection.

Review # 20 – Elevator To The Gallows

on February 6, 2015

Elevator to The Gallows

Spine #335

Available on DVD


  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New interview with actor Jeanne Moreau
  • Archival interviews with director Louis Malle, actors Maurice Ronet and Moreau, and original soundtrack session pianist René Urtreger
  • Footage of Miles Davis and Louis Malle from the soundtrack recording session
  • New video program about the score with jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis and critic Gary Giddins
  • Malle’s student film Crazeologie, featuring the title song by Charlie Parker
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Terrence Rafferty, an interview with Louis Malle, and a tribute by film producer Vincent Malle

    New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

The first thing to mention about this film is the score by Miles Davis. If you love jazz then this is something I would highly recommend for you. I will give you a little idea of what is in store with this YouTube link. The best thing to do here, to avoid spoilers, is press play then minimise the screen so that you don’t see the film.

Onto the film itself and we become involved with an adulteress couple Julien and Florence

❤ “Je t’aime je t’aime” ❤

This declaration of love is breathlessly spoken as they finalise their plan. The man in their way is a ruthless businessman who makes money off the back of misery to others.

“Have respect for war; it is your family heirloom”

Sadly this comment that still rings true with a lot of people today (this film is from the 60’s). War and killing is big business and there is always someone wanting to profit. This reminded of a play I watched last year, to see what that was please click here

Sorry for the sidetrack 🙂 There is another couple key to the storyline and I will say from the start, I found them to be annoying; a scatterbrain girl and moody boyfriend. Whilst they are an important component in regards to how incidents occur and play out, their juvenile behaviour and presence irked me. They take Julien’s car for a joyride and their fateful roadtrip begins.

Anyway, back to Julien. Have you ever found yourself trapped in a lift? Poor Julien has and it happened at a most unfortunate time. He is left to try and escape whilst Florence, his partner in crime, walks the streets of Paris desperately looking for him. The stolen car drives past and she mistakes the “scatterbrain” and her boyfriend for Julien and another woman. This “sighting” has repercussions after an early morning round up by the police, it seems it was once illegal and maybe still is, to be out and about in Paris during the small hours without your ID.

This film highlights another pet peeve of mine, law enforcement incompetence. An Assistant District Attorney prances around the room showing off to journalists by sprouting half-truths, hearsay and fitting circumstance to his theory. Thankfully (unless you are Julien & Florence) there are some people with a badge who know what they are doing and so the hunt (and power to the elevator) is on. The morning paper brings about a comical moment in the café, though the little girl needs to learn how to keep her cool and her mouth shut 🙂 The sirens blare and the net catches it’s prey.

Without revealing too much about what happens next my final note is to say this, if you are going to cheat and plot murder don’t leave your camera lying around, photos don’t lie 😉

My final thoughts on Elevator To The Gallows, in all honesty after my first watch I was a little deflated. My hopes had been high for this one, the first feature film of French director Louis Malle (I highly recommend Au Revoir Les Enfants). It was only after another watch, along with the Criterion Extras, whilst writing this post, did I develop more of an appreciation. Please bear this in mind when you watch, it may take more than one viewing.



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