First Films: Louis Malle


Location: Rear of Aarnun Gallery, 99 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

Day: Sunday


Louis Malle was only 25 when he made his first feature in 195, but he had already worked under Jacques Yves-Cousteau for three years, co-directed the underwater documentary Le Monde du Silence and served briefly as Bresson's assistant. L'Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (1957), the film with which he made his debut, was a thriller with a complicated and not always plausible double plot ... Malle handles this plot adroitly but despite a number of references to wider issues does not manage to make the film more than an elegant thriller. His sense of style is nevertheless always apparent - first-rate performances from his leading players, a feeling for authentic settings, an improvised jazz backing by Miles Davis, some excellent photography by Henri Decae, and a sequence of probing shots depicting Jeanne Moreau wandering through Paris alone, seeking news of her missing lover, which anticipates the performance Malle succeeded in drawing from his star in the next film, Les Amants (The Lovers). -- Roy Armes, French Cinema since 1946 [Source: Filmforum Program Notes, 1977]