Monday, November 07, 2005

Movie: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

A friend called me three months ago, when this film played in New York, to tell me to watch for it here. It’s good to have people looking out for your interests.

Louis Malle was only 24 years old – a mere vingt quatre ans – when he made this tightly controlled New Wave noir. It’s one of the coolest movies I’ve ever seen, in the original hipsters’ sense of the word. Paris at night, Jeanne Moreau in an early role, soundtrack by Miles Davis.

A man commits the perfect murder only to get trapped in the elevator at the scene. His lover (Moreau), baffled that he’s missed their rendezvous, wanders the streets questioning their entire relationship. Meanwhile, a teenaged couple obsessed with trouble and each other steals the man’s car for a crime spree of their own. As the night progresses, the fates of all four become hopelessly intertwined. The wrap-up is particularly satisfying.

Rialto Pictures’ website features a trailer guaranteed to whet the appetite, as well as the dates of upcoming screenings around the U.S. Past Rialto re-releases like LE CERCLE ROUGE and THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS have preceded impressive Criterion DVDs, so a new home video version could be in the offing.

The high point of seeing this movie had nothing to do with the film itself. I was in the lobby when an elderly woman asked me, “Which way to the gallows?” Would that I’d had a clever answer.

Movie: From Hell It Came (1957)

While looking up GALLOWS under its original U.S. title FRANTIC in my trusty Leonard Maltin guide, I came across the review for this Grade-Z horror film. Leonard says, “As walking-tree movies go, this is at the top of the list.” You’ve got to figure that the Ents in the LORD OF THE RINGS series have wrested that title away. Still, FROM HELL had a good run.

Miscellaneous: Links

Slate’s slideshow on Calvin & Hobbes, “the last great newspaper comic strip,” has bumped that Bill Watterson collection higher up on my Christmas list. Over at Mystery*File, Gary Warren Niebuhr’s look at the Honey West books shows that you can’t go home again. Ah, to return to that bygone era of the international eye-spy with ample assets and professional football in Los Angeles.