Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (1958)
This is the first feature film from director Louis Malle and what a work! It's one of the best thrillers I've seen. Too bad that Malle changed genre all the time. Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet - looked much younger here than in Plein Soleil 2 years later), an ex-soldier, has an affair with his boss's wife (Jeanne Moreau). The plan to kill the boss goes well - until Tavernier forgets something and has to return to the crime scene, and gets stuck in the lift. A young couple steal his car and use his identity in a crime, while his mistress thinks he has run off with another woman. The next morning, free from the lift, Tavernier is wanted for murder, but not the one he has done. Cinematographer Henri Decaë did a superb job and as the DVD is well remastered, I am very pleased with the b/w picture. Throughout the movie the tension is high, especially because I care for Tavernier - don't care for the young couple though. This movie shows that one wrong step can lead you, and others, to a disaster. Like the title suggests: Lift to the Scaffold, if Tavernier didn't get stuck in the lift, perhaps things would have been well. Miles Davis did the soundtrack and there are Lino Ventura and Jean-Claude Brialy in small roles.
Les amants (1958)
I read this one caused a scandal, especially in the US, when it was released because of the sex scene. Well, watching this now, the sex scene is nothing. Jeanne Tournier (Jeanne Moreau), wife of a rich man and mother of a little girl, is bored with her life. She visits a lot her friend Maggy in Paris, where she meets a polo player. Suspicious that his wife has an affair with the polo player, Henri Turnier invites him and Maggy. Return from Paris for the dinner, Jeanne's car breaks down and an archaeologist takes her home. Henri asks the archaeologist to stay the night and it's when Jeanne and the archaeologist fall in love with each other. In leaving her husband, Jeanne must leave her daughter as well, but I guess she must believe that the daughter is better off with Henri. We see that she spends most of her time with Maggy instead with her daughter. With stunning b/w picture by Henri Decaë, the movie is beautiful to look at and I love the Brahms music.
Zazie dans le métro (1960)
12-year-old Zazie has to stay with Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret) for 2 days so that her mother can have all the fun with her boyfriend. What Zazie wants the most is to ride Métro, but it is on strike. She runs from Uncle Gabriel's house and gets him into trouble. The movie is full of ideas and the director played with effects, camera work, and editing. As soon as Zazie says her lines, I can understand why this movie gets a 12 rating: she is foul-mouthed. In the end, I can't say if I like this movie, although I can appreciate the creative ideas, which are too many that the story loses its meaning. The DVD contains short film called 'Vive le tour', a documentary about Tour de France, which I think is great and more interesting than the feature film. It captures well the hope and desperation of the participants, fighting to reach the finish line.
Le feu follet (1963)
Maurice Ronet plays Alain Leroy, a writer who is under alcohol treatment in a private clinic in order to win his wife back. The doctor tells him that he is cured, but Alain is not sure. His wife is across the Atlantic and he has lost all hope to get her back. He decides to commit suicide and dedicates one day to visit his friends. They are all sorry for him, but the more he sees them, the more he can see that his life has no meaning. This movie is a good study on human fragility with a shocking ending. Won't watch this one on a rainy day.