Tuesday, April 10, 2018

At the office with Louis Malle

[Click any image for a larger view.]

The opening scenes of Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958) are office-centric. Man, are they ever. Julien (Maurice Ronet) sits at his well-appointed desk: Gitanes, Parker 51 fountain pen (it at least looks like a Parker 51), miniature camera, and telephone. The odd object that looks like an small hourglass? It’s a clock.

It’s 7:04. No, now it’s 7:05. Or 7:5? 75? “HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME”: time, that is, to put away the card file and get going.

Meanwhile, Anna (Jacqueline Staup) runs the switchboard and sharpens pencils. “The inexorable sadness of pencils”? Phooey. Life is good. Anna’s sharpener resembles a telephone. Nothing terrible has happened — yet. And nothing terrible will happen to Anna, or to her sharpener.

[With lines borrowed from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Theodore Roethke’s “Dolor.”]

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