With his debut feature, the impeccably crafted crime thriller Elevator to the Gallows (1958), Louis Malle announced himself as one of France’s most dynamic young filmmakers and helped pave the way for the imminent French New Wave. One of the most remarkable elements of the film is its jazz score by Miles Davis, which accentuates the haunting and seductive mood of a tale of two lovers whose murder plot goes off the rails. It’s not just the evocative soundtrack but the circumstances surrounding its recording that have long since become the stuff of legend: over the course of a single night, in a rented Parisian studio, Davis and his accompanying musicians (including French pianist René Urtreger and American drummer Kenny Clarke) completed their work on the fly. The clip above, taken from a supplement on our newly upgraded edition of Elevator to the Gallows, offers a privileged glimpse of that nocturnal session, with Davis raptly playing along to the projected film, and Malle back in the booth describing the improvisatory method he developed with the trumpeter.
Charles Burnett Calls Forth the Ghosts of the Old World
In an interview program on our edition of To Sleep with Anger, the director and his actors discuss the African-American folkloric traditions at the heart of the film.
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.