Lift To The Scaffold

Watch Lift To The Scaffold

  • NR
  • 1958
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 7.9  (27,915)
  • 94

Lift to the Scaffold is a 1958 French film which stands as one of the landmark films of the Nouvelle Vague movement. Directed by Louis Malle, the film is set entirely in Paris and follows the life of a pair of lovers who become embroiled in a murder plot. The film stars Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, and Georges Poujouly in the leading roles.

The film opens with a sleek car pulling up outside an office building in which Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) works. Julien is a well-respected employee in the car manufacturing business and he is married to his boss's wife Florence (Jeanne Moreau). However, the pair have been having an affair for some time and they are forced to end their illicit relationship when Florence's husband suddenly returns from a trip.

Frustrated and desperate, Julien devises a plan to kill Florence's husband and make it look like a suicide. He sneaks into the building's elevator late at night, climbs into the building using the outside ladder, and makes it into Florence's office. After he succeeds in his mission, he loses his nerve and becomes trapped when he is forced to flee the building using the same external ladder.

Meanwhile, his car is stolen by a teenage couple, Louis (Georges Poujouly) and his girlfriend Véronique (Yori Bertin) who are joyriding around Paris. Unfortunately for Julien, his car contains incriminating evidence which the young couple unwittingly become involved with. As they drive around with the car and become lost, Julien is frantically trying to locate them.

The film switches back and forth between Florence's investigation of her husband's death and Louis's and Véronique's carefree exploration of Paris. The action builds to a climax as Julien weaves in and out of the city trying to find the car and avoid the police.

Lift to the Scaffold is a masterful crime drama which famously pioneered the use of handheld cameras and natural lighting techniques in film. The Parisian setting is beautifully shot with stunning black and white cinematography, showcasing the bustling and atmospheric streets of the city as well as its iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River.

As a character study, the film is an insightful look into the lives of people brought together by chance and circumstance, as well as their motivations and desires. Moreau's Florence is a complex woman who is portrayed as an independent, intelligent and ambitious but also trapped in a loveless marriage. Julien is equally compelling, as a flawed figure who ultimately acts out of love for his mistress but is undone by his own guilt and insecurity.

The famous Miles Davis score is a crucial element of the film, it was recorded in one take in a New York studio, where Davis and his band watched the film and improvised the music, creating a soundtrack that perfectly reflects the mood and atmosphere of the film.

Overall, Lift to the Scaffold is a cinematic masterpiece that remains a powerful and timeless work of art. Its use of innovative techniques and its exploration of the human condition elevates it beyond just a crime thriller and makes it a must-see for film buffs and casual viewers alike. With its immortal score, stunning visuals, and an unforgettable story that is both thrilling and thought-provoking, it is no wonder that this movie has stood the test of time and continues to captivate audiences to this day.

Lift To The Scaffold
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (27,915)
  • Metascore