The Louis Malle Collection - Vol. 1

 

A collection of four feature length films and one documentary short from the early career of highly-engaging director Louis Malle. After his role as a camera operator on the Jacque Cousteau documentary THE SILENT WORLD in 1956, Malle directed his debut film ASENSEUR POUR L’ECHAFAUD--known as LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD in the UK or ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS in the US--in 1958. The New Wave thriller starred Jeanne Moreau and featured some impressive cinematography, as well as an improvised jazz score by Miles Davis. His second film LES AMANTS (aka THE LOVERS), again starring Jeanne Moreau, caused some controversy due to its sexual content and ran into trouble with the US censors. LE FEU FOLLET , 1963, details the troubled life of a recovering alcoholic and his encounters with his old friends. ZAZIE DANS LE METRO is a brilliant fast-paced comedy about a young girl’s exploration of Paris and, like much of Malle’s work from this period, has a strong visual style. As an extra the 18 minute documentary short by Malle, VIVE LE TOUR, is an interesting account of some of the unreported scenes and struggles of the Tour de France bicycle race. This collection demonstrates Louis Malle’s talent across several genres and his ability to create affecting and thought-provoking pieces of cinema.


 

Synopses:

 

ASENSEUR POUR L’ECHAFAUD (Elevator to the Gallows) - 1958

 In his mesmerizing debut, twenty-four-year-old director Louis Malle brought together the beauty of Jeanne Moreau, the camerawork of Henri Decaë, and the now legendary score by Miles Davis. A touchstone of the careers of both its star and director, Elevator to the Gallows is a richly atmospheric thriller of mistaken identity unfolding over one tense night in Paris.

 

LE FEU FOLLET (A Time to Live and a Time to Die) - 1963

'No Man is an Island' .Obsessed with the notion of taking his own life, Leroy (Maurice Ronet) an alcoholic writer, plans his suicide on July 23. Self cures and psychiatric assistance prove unhelpful and Louis Malle closely details a morose study of one man man victimized by his own isolationism. Based on the novel by Pierre Drieu.

 

LES AMANTS (The Lovers) - 1958

Disconcerted with her husband, and tired of her polo-playing lover, Jeanne Tournier (Jeanne Moreau) has an amorous opportunity with a young man who gives her a lift when her auto breaks down. Her complex emotions including frustration, boredom and indifference about her wealth and family, come to some defining moments allowing reflection and encourage her desire to take a chance and change her existence.

 

ZAZIE DANS LE METRO (Zazie in the Underground) - 1960

A surreal, satirical headlong rush around 1950s Paris. Louis Malle's film follows Zazie, a precocious girl desperate to ride the Métro but thwarted by a strike. Hilarious in a comically bizarre French way.

 

VIVE LE TOUR

This 1962 18 minute documentary by Malle details some of the unreported trials and tribulations many cyclists face in the famous Tour De France - a long-distance stage race competition for professional cycling teams, traveling through France and its nearby countries, contested over the course of three weeks each July. The winner is the individual rider who finishes the course of the race in the least accumulated time.

    

 


 


(aka 'Elevator to the Gallows' or 'Elevator to the Scaffold' or 'Frantic' or 'Lift to the Scaffold')

Directed by Louis Malle
France 1958

 

In his mesmerizing debut, twenty-four-year-old director Louis Malle brought together the beauty of Jeanne Moreau, the camerawork of Henri Decaë, and the now legendary score by Miles Davis. A touchstone of the careers of both its star and director, Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud) is a richly atmospheric thriller of mistaken identity unfolding over one tense night in Paris.

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 29th, 1958

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DVD Review: Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL
Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono)
Subtitles English (non-removable)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratios:  1.66 

Edition Details:

• Interview with Rene Urtreger

• Vincent Malle discusses the film (in English)

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

A notch below the Criterion sharpness of their NTSC DVD edition (see comparison capture below), this Optimum disc still looks very good with acceptable detail and good contrast. It has been anamorphically transferred in the correct aspect ratio (the elusive 1.66 that so many DVD production companies have problems with). As in the entire boxset the English subtitles are non-removable, but they don't appear to be ingrained (meaning you can burn them off if you desire - although I haven't tried myself) - this DVD is single layered. The 7 minute Vincent Malle discussion is quit good (he is Malle's brother) - he is very animated and a delight to listen to. He brings up stories of Cousteau and his brother's reverence for Robert Bresson and his fortune to work on A Man Escaped. There is a 2nd interview with Rene Urtreger who was the pianist on the film. This is 15 minutes.

Overall I am very happy with this disc and as I have stated before it is one of my favorite Noir films. 

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Subtitle Sample

 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2- PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Not exact frame

 

 

Screen Capture Samples

 

 

 

 


 

(aka "A Time to Live and a Time to Die" or "Fuoco fatuo" or "The Fire Within" or "Will o' the Wisp")

Directed by Louis Malle
France 19
63

Arguably the finest of Malle's early films, this is a calmly objective but profoundly compassionate account of the last 24 hours in the life of a suicide. Ronet gives a remarkable, quietly assured performance as the alcoholic who, upon leaving a clinic, visits old friends in the hope that they will provide him with a reason to live. They don't, and Malle's achievement lies not only in his subtle but clear delineation of his protagonist's emotions but in his grasp of life's compromises; his portrait of Parisian society is astringent, never facile.

 Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: October 15th, 1963

  Reviews    More Reviews     DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL
Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono)
Subtitles English (non-removable)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratios:  1.66 

Edition Details:

• Vincent Malle discusses the film (in English)

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

This may be the sharpest DVD transfer in the Boxset. Shadow detail and contrast and superb. Again it has been anamorphically transferred in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66. This DVD is dual-layered. Again - subs are non-removable - audio is clear and consistent. Louis's brother, Vincent Malle does some more reminiscing about the film and his brother's opinions and temperament.

This film is fantastic. A detailed exploration of depression and life assessment. I enjoyed it very much.          

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

Screen Capture Samples

 

 

 

 


 

(aka 'The Lovers')

Directed by Louis Malle
France 1958

 

In Malle's second feature, he continued his association with new star Moreau in an (at the time) controversial study of bourgeois emptiness and sexual yearnings. She plays a chic, high society wife with money, a daughter, smart friends and a casual lover. Then one night, she makes passionate love with a young student of a few hours acquaintance, and leaves it all for a new life. If it now looks too much like an angry young sensualist's movie, the combination of highly pleasurable body language, Brahms on the soundtrack, and the ravishing, velvety monochrome photography of Henri Decaë proves hard to resist. The film established Moreau's screen persona - commanding, wilful, sultry - but it marked the stylistically-conscious Malle apart from his more tearaway nouvelle vague colleagues.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Releases: September 1958 - Venice Film Festival

  Reviews    More Reviews     DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL
Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono)
Subtitles English (non-removable)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratios:  2.35 

Edition Details:

• Vincent Malle discusses the film

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

This much softer than the other DVDs. The 2.35 ratio is maintained but there is a slim black border surrounding the frame limiting the horizontal resolution and it is also single-layered taking up only 3.7 Gig of the disc. Contrast has some fluctuations and there is drastic noise. Again subtitles cannot be removed and the mono audio is clear and dialogue audible. Vincent Malle further discusses his brother and some tidbits on this particular film.

Another wonderful Malle film. Moreau's performance is quite special.      

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

Screen Capture Samples

 

 

 

 


 

(aka 'Zazie dans le métro' or 'Zazie in the Subway' or 'Zazie in the Underground' or 'Zazie nel metrň')

Directed by Louis Malle
France 1960

 

Arguably Louis Malle's best work (1960). Based on Raymond Queneau's farcical novel about a little girl (Catherine Demongeot) left in Paris for a weekend with her decadent uncle (Philippe Noiret), this wild spree goes overboard reproducing Mack Sennett-style slapstick, parodying various films of the 1950s, and playing with editing and color effects (Henri Decae's cinematography is especially impressive), though gradually it becomes a rather disturbing nightmare about fascism. Forget the preposterous claim by a few critics that the movie's editing influenced Alain Resnais, but there's no doubt that Malle affected Richard Lester--and was clearly influenced himself by William Klein, whom he credited on the film as a visual consultant. A rather sharp, albeit soulless, film, packed with ideas and glitter and certainly worth a look.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Releases: October 28th, 1960

  Reviews    More Reviews     DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL
Audio French (Dolby Digital Mono)
Subtitles English (non-removable)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratios: 1.33  (could be Open Matte - should be 1.66?)

Edition Details:

• Interview with Jean-Paul Rappeneau (9:59)

• Vive le Tour (18 minutes)

• Vincent Malle discusses the film (7:14)

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2006

4 Tiered Digipak inside VHS sized case
Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

I have had some email reports that some suspect that this film may be presented on this DVD in open matte, as opposed to a presumed ratio of 1.66. Composition may tend to support this as the framing leaves quite a bit of space in many scenes. Frankly though, I am not 100% sure and prefer to be happy with the detail and bright colors that the Optimum DVD shows. It looks very good with some minor digital noise/dirt peeking through. Included as an extra are the Malle short of the Tour De France (Vive le Tour) and two interviews - a decent 10 minutes with co-writer Jean-Paul Rappeneau and another brief one with brother Vincent Malle. This DVD is dual-layered.

Rosenbaum is right about the film - Zazie in the Underground is real comic gem with some brilliant slapstick and satire discreetly poking through.      

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

Screen Capture Samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL




 

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   CANADA

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