Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASCENSEUR POUR L'ÉCHAFAUD - Miles Davis - "Frantic" (1958)

As bad as last night's movie was, that's how good tonight's feature is, and if you don't know anything about it, then it is my sincere pleasure to present to you, "Elevator To The Gallows", a severely cool film with a beyond cool soundtrack by the mysterious Mr. Cool himself, Miles Davis!!! Being a huge Miles Davis fan, I hate to admit it, but I wasn't familiar with this film until I found it on Netflix, in French, with sub-titles, and what a find it was!

Starring:Louis Malle's first flick brings hip wit, intrique, mystery and suspense all wrapped up like pigs in a blanket with Miles Davis syrup poured all over it and spills it right in your lap! It's one of those kind of films where the problems just keep compounding into something that you know is going to have to burst eventually!

Maurice as Julien Tavernier and Jeanne as Florence Carala are madly in love, there's just really only one small problem!!

Florence is married and her husband is Julien's boss!!

So Florence waits around while Julien takes care of the dirty work!!

Julien was all ready to pick up Florence and get out of town, but upon realizing he'd left a major clue behind, he returns, only to get stuck in the elevator when the security guard cuts off the juice for the weekend!!

That's the basic set-up, but in the meantime, these kids steal Julien's car that he left running when he hastily ran back into the building!!

It's a regular Bonnie and Clyde scene as the kids use Julien's ID, camera, and gun to party with, and then kill this German tourist!!

All the while Florence has no clue what's going on and continues to search all the regular dives!!

For this film, Miles used a different quintette that featured Barney Wilen on Tenor Sax, René Urtreger on piano, Pierre Michelot on bass, and the everpresent Kenny Clarke on the drums!!

Florence seems to be the only one who didn't read the paper and see that Julien's mug is smeared all over the front page for thr killing of that German tourist!!

After a whole bunch of stuff happens, Julien finally gets out of the elevator about 24 hours later, but has no clue what kind of trouble he's in for something he didn't do!! Yeah, it's just a little twisted!!!! Unfortunately for Julien, these gals, unlike Florence, did read the paper and call the cops!!

I'm not going to tell you how this great film ends, because I really do encourage you to see this truly classic and classy film!!

This is only a taste of the music in this film! You can rent this movie, you can buy this DVD or CD, and while you're at it, pick up a copy of Miles' work on the soundtrack for "Jack Johnson!" That's one of my favorite of Miles' electric releases with John McLaughlin on Guitar, Michael Henderson pumping out the bass, and Billy Cobham on drums! I also just found out there's a 5 disc box set of extra music from the "Jack Johnson" sessions out there too! It's pretty pricey, but includes a ton of stuff with a host of different players like Sonny Sharrock, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Bennie Maupin, Steve Grossman, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Gene Perla, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Lenny White, Airto Moreira, and Hermeto Pascoal!! I know what I want for X-Mas!!


buzz said...

"Severely cool" is putting it mildly. This is one of the movies that helps one forgive all the crappy French films over the last 50 years.

Lacey said...

While not one of the best of the French films, this one shows the start of what would be French cinema of the 60s.

The idea that the perfect murder could be derailed by a simple elevator, is almost worthy of Poe.
I also loved that after being "stood up" by her lover, Florence wanders the streets of Paris looking for him.

Only in a French film would this not seem ridiculous.

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