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Lift to the Scaffold

I was split between my tremendous admiration for Bresson and the temptation to make a Hitchcock-like film, said director Louis Malle of his approach to his debut feature, made when he was just 24. Adapted from Noël Calef’s pulp novel, Lift to the Scaffold is an intelligent thriller that served as an important precursor to such New Wave classics as Breathless ( À bout de souffle). Ex-paratrooper Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) and his mistress Florence (Moreau) come up with a plan to murder her industrialist husband Having carried out the killing, the former soldier finds himself trapped on his own in the office lift and fails to make the agreed rendezvous with Florence. This clever, stylish film is anchored by wonderful performances from Ronet (as a prototype of the disgruntled Vietnam vet) and Moreau (who does some moody solo wandering in the streets looking for her missing lover). But the cement holding everything together is really the splendid jazz score improvised by Miles Davis.
France. 1957. English subtitles. Black and white. 90 mins.

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