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Ascenseur Pour L'éschafaud

1 rating: 5.0
Both a Louis Malle move and Miles Davis soundtrack album. 1958


Tags: Miles Davis, Jeanne Moreau, Louis Malle, Ascenseur Pour Lschafaud, Elevator To The Gallows
1 review about Ascenseur Pour L'éschafaud

A must!

  • Jun 19, 2009
  • by
This movie was Louis Malle's first film. It was also the vehicle with which Jeanne Moreau became a star, and Miles Davis experimented with modal sound.

Louis Malle was 25 and had only created films for Jacques Cousteau up to this point when he made Ascenseur pour l'éschafaud. He boldly asked Jeanne Moreau to star in his directorial debut and filmed her in natural makeup, unusual up to that point. The look created a sensation and had everyone falling in love with Jeanne.
Miles Davis was in Paris, having fired his band back in the U.S., looking for what to do next. Again, being bold, Malle went to the club where Miles was playing and asked him if he could record the soundtrack to Malle's film. The problem was, Miles was leaving the next day. They spent that entire night recording the sountrack for the movie. This recording session had Miles' working modal experimentation and improvisation.  This recording was a precurser to his Kind of Blue album in 1959. It's an overlooked gem.
The film is a suspense crime thriller that takes place in Paris. Shot in noirish black and white and with great cinematic affect. There are multiple story lines which converge in the end. One about lovers plotting the murder of the woman's husband. Another about restless youth tumbling through the consequences of a series of restless choices. The murderer/lover gets stuck in the elevator after comitting the murder while his lover wanders the streets of Paris looking for him after he failed to show up at their meeting point—fearing the worst, that he couldn't go through with it and has left her. The restless youth get into trouble by their own making. The stories converge as expected but with many surprising and unexpected details.
I recommend renting the dvd and getting the soundtrack. The film is great, and the dvd has some great special features, including Miles' recording session, Louis Malle's reflection of the film in the 70's, and old footage of Moreau and Malle in interview. They had become lovers themselves during this film and went on to make "The Lovers" which I also recommend!
Ascenseur pour l'éschafaud

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June 19, 2009
Thanks for the rec! Sounds like just the kind of story I would love. I'm also a big fan of Miles Davis AND I can't get enough of movie soundtracks. It's been a mild obsession of mine lately. I just bought A Good Year cd and it was so eclectic and fun.
June 19, 2009
Very nice review. I'm a big fan of Miles Davis, as he's from my part of the country....St. Louis. I'll check out both the film and the CD....glad you brought it to my attention.
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