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Lift To The Scaffold

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1958

Lift To The Scaffold, originally titled "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud" in French, is a gripping 1958 crime thriller and film noir directed by Louis Malle. This captivating, influential film features established stars Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet and a young Georges Poujouly. This French production merges different genres alongside an alluring Miles Davis score, crafting a significant cornerstone in French New Wave cinema.

At the heart of Lift To The Scaffold is a perfect crime story that takes a twist-filled turn. The premise of the movie revolves around Florence Carala, played by a magnificent Jeanne Moreau, and her lover Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet). The couple creates a plan to murder Florence's husband, Simon Carala (Jean Wall), a war profiteer and Julien's boss, making it look like a suicide. However, as it is often the case in crime thrillers, the plan that seemed infallible is jeopardized due to a number of unforeseen complications.

Jeanne Moreau's performance is monumental, becoming a symbol of French New Wave with her captivating presence and ever-pondering and worried glance. Maurice Ronet matches her intensity, negotiating a complex character that needs to consistently traverse between cold-blooded determination and panic-stricken victimhood.

Director Louis Malle masterfully keeps viewers on their toes as both Julien and Florence face a series of progressively worsening situations that threaten to expose their dastardly act. The narrative progresses in an atmospheric and claustrophobic manner, creating a beautiful conflict between the aesthetic of the film and the darkness of the plot.

The brilliant score composed by jazz legend Miles Davis provides a mesmerizing background that complements the film's brooding ambiance. The soulful, nocturnal music is in itself a driving force throughout the film, enriching the mood and augmenting the narrative. Davis's score is just as much a character in the film as the actors, with the cinematic value of its improvisations now legendary.

The immaculate cinematography becomes a huge part of the film's unique allure, bringing the audience into the world of the characters. The streets of Paris become a representational maze of despair and unease as the two main characters end up spiraling into their respective dilemmas. The night scenes soaked in noir aesthetics create a Paris that is as uncertain and complex as the narrative of the film.

One of the unique aspects of Lift To The Scaffold is the intelligent narrative structure that beautifully entwines parallel storylines and keeps the audience intrigued and invested. Integration of secondary characters, including a rebellious Louis (Georges Poujouly), helps introduce randomness and chaos into the primarily focused narrative, enhancing the film's tension and realism.

The movie, despite its obvious genre influences, becomes a wider commentary on societal elements. It explores themes of post-war society, delving into urban decay, youthful rebellion, and moral ambiguity, all under the guise of a suspenseful crime thriller. The film gets into the human psyche, exploring the desperation, loneliness, guilt, and fear that stems from committing an immoral act.

Overall, Lift To The Scaffold is a classic French crime film that explores elements of suspense, thrill, and human psychology. The film is enveloped in a haunting Miles Davis score, creating a complex and engaging cinematic piece that vibrates with psychological tension. Set in the intricate labyrinth of night-time Paris, the film navigates through a series of unfortunate events and mistakes, providing viewers with a compelling experience filled with tension, intrigue, and suspense.

With Malle's exceptional directing, Moreau's captivating performance, Davis's mesmerizing score, and the intriguing yet fatal love story at its heart, Lift To The Scaffold was an innovative film in the late 1950s and continues to enchant viewers to this day. It offers more than just a noir-inspired crime narrative; it engages with broader social themes and human psyche dimensions that infuse the story with depth, making it a masterpiece of the French New Wave and film noir genres. Whether you're a fan of crime thrillers, film noir, or innovative film-making, Lift To The Scaffold is definitely a must-watch piece of classic cinema.

Lift To The Scaffold is a Crime, Drama, Thriller movie released in 1958. It has a runtime of 91. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.9. It also holds a MetaScore of 94.

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7.9/10
94/100
Director
Louis Malle
Stars
Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin
Also starring Maurice Ronet
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