Frantic-Elevator

Oh the age before smoking bans and continuity editing!

I am supposed to like this, at least for Jeanne Moreau and Miles Davis, and I won’t deny that they are both magnificent. Moreau’s dejected all-night promenade, her haughty reproaches to anyone who would waylay her, her miraculously quick-drying hair! She is wonderful, there is no doubt to that. I would enjoy an edit of this film that was nothing but the scenes of her walking, set to the original soundtrack, or not. (I’ve known the music for so long, I suppose I wouldn’t mind something else.)

The film as a whole, though, leaves me trop blasé. It’s not a reaction against 50s camp, since two of my favorite French films come from this decade: Le Salaire de la Peur (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) and Les Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1954). In this case, I had no heart for the characters. The plot contortions kept waving their arms at me as if I couldn’t see them. The photography itself was lovely, but they had to muss it up with story.

I did, on the other hand, love the moment when the newspaper typesetters insert the plate that is imprinted with Tavernier’s ruggedly-handsome photograph; as it clinks into place, ready to be pressed for the front page of the morning edition, that may be the best moment of the film.

He spends the whole night in the elevator but doesn’t run straight for the toilet when he gets out! I suppose, with his luck, that could have delivered him to an even worse fate.

 

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