Elevator to the Gallows

Much like the title conveyance, you can’t keep a good film noir down. A decade after its previous digital restoration and 35mm re-release, Louis Malle’s 1958 debut feature, Elevator to the Gallows, is back in theaters in a shiny 4K restoration. The setup has become fairly familiar: Florence (Jeanne Moreau) is the wife of arms dealer Simon (Jean Wall), and her lover Julien (Maurice Ronet) concocts a plan to kill Simon and make it look like suicide. After pulling off the killing in Simon’s office, Julien gets trapped in a broken elevator between floors — and then things start to get complicated. There’s no question that Elevator to the Gallows is a stone-cold classic of its genre, which is why it seems to get dusted off on a regular basis. But like the recent restoration of Rififi, the real selling point is how the glorious b&w cinematography keeps getting prettier. There’s just something about the b&w, 35mm film stock used in those days that’s never been matched before or since, and the 4k really brings it out — and further confirms there was never a more atmospheric city at night than Paris in the 1950s. (Oh, that neon glow!) Of course, anything’s automatically cool with a Miles Davis score, and Elevator to the Gallows doesn’t waste it.

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