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Ascenseur pour l'échafaud

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Marion calls Luc from a payphone. He doesn't answer. She lights a cigarette.
‘He said he'd call. To talk about it.’ She thinks.
She blows elegant smoke rings. Marion knows not to trust Luc. It's not the first time. She knows where he must be. He can't hide from this. She has had enough. She picks up her bag and steps out into the rain. The door to the phone booth swings shut. Marion grinds her cigarette into the cobbled pavement. 
'Why is it always raining?'

'Its him!' 
She follows him through the shadows, pulling up her collar and bending her head against the rain. He is walking swiftly, stealthily. Up to no good. He turns around. 
'Did he hear me?'
As he looks behind him, Marion flattens herself against the wall.
‘He heard me. He's running into a bar. How am I going to follow him now? I am scared that he will kill me.’

He’s at the bar and Marion sits at the corner window, her hat tilted.
‘Damn. Everyone is too happy in here.’
Time for another cigarette. Foot tapping against the stool. She hears Luc ask the barman for Michel.
‘Damn. Luc must have told his brother Michel. He said it was just the two of us who knew.’

A slow, overweight guy comes down to the bar and approaches Luc. You wouldn't know that they are brothers. Adopted twins, brought up by different families, they met by chance 20 years later. Michel owes Luc money. That’s when the problems started. 
‘Perhaps he is planning his getaway’, Marion thinks. ‘Avec moi? I feel so weary. I just want an easy life with my man.’

She is momentarily distracted by strains of piano coming from the corner. ‘Who is that guy?’ He sure knows how to play. I almost forgot about my troubles for a moment’.

Michel looks angry but Luc calms him down. “They’ll never find us here. We're safe. I have the cash. What did you do with his suitcase?”
“But they’ll just want more.” shouts Michel, “We have to end it. We have to end HIM.”
“Let's have dinner at the motel. Talk some more. It is seedy but the landlady knows me.”

They reach the motel. “The usual please Monique. He'll have steak haché...” “The main thing is to hide from Julien,” Michel mutter to Luc, “… and the house red. Don’t forget the frites… That’s better. Now, what to do about J? He knows where we live, but not Marion. I should call her. We can hide there.”

“Merde,” says Luc, “do you think she will want to speak to you? There's a phone in the hall… Quick. I see J. Forget your food. Let's go, there's a phone across the street.”

Luc picks up the receiver. “Hi, Marion. Yeah, sorry about Saturday. Something, erm, came up… Brother? Yes I might have seen him. I love you darling. Let's get married. Let's forget about what happened. I need to see you. But first, I need you to do me a little favour. ”

“I love you too” Marion replies, “Yes, what is it? I'll do anything,”
“You know the spare room, the one that could be a nursery one day?”
“Yes, the one with the patch of damp?”
“Under the floorboard, there's a silvery metal box…”
“Take it out but don't open it. We will be there soon. Just nipping to the bar again. You know how my brother likes to drink.”

Luc puts down the phone, sighs and meets Michel in another dingy bar.
“Deux cremes de menthe please, Jacques, et deux pernods.”
Michel has seduced one of the dancers here. ‘I don't know what she sees in him. Dirty cash.’
“Pack of Lucky Strikes too, Jacques, this is gonna be a long night. And some matches.”
Michel picks up the matches, ‘Zut, there's a number written on the match box. Julien. I should never have trusted that motel pute.
Michel asks Jacques for the bar phone. He dials the number.
“Allo, Julien ici”
“Luc, is that you? You owe me. I’m coming over.”
“You don’t know where I live.”
“Oh I know everything about you Luc. You can’t hide.”

Breathless, Luc calls Marion.

“Marion, you can trust me. Meet me at Bar Lapin, darling. I must see you.”
“Sure, I'll take you to the Champs Elysées.” Marion sighs with a sense of foreboding.
“Dress in all your finery. I love our walks there.”

“Ah, there you are. You look beautiful darling,” says Luc.
“Et alors?” replies Marion, quizzically.
“Ah, this is Michel.”
“Bonjour Michel.”

“Michel, go home. I'll talk to you later.”
“You don't look like brothers.”
“Ten years in Borstal change a man.”

“Who is Julien?” asks Marion, “I had a call earlier.”
“Julien, ah,  he's just a... business acquaintance.”
“He sounded charming. Said he would change our lives. I gave him my address. He sounded so nice.”
“Yes, charming. Did he mention anything about a suitcase?
“Yes, I told him you had one just like it. Tiens, I have the metal case you wanted. Why is it locked Luc? Why don't you trust me?”
“Marion, I trust you. The key is at my place. Let's go. I have something to show you.”

“OK. I will trust you but it's not easy after what happened.”
“I've missed these walks, Marion. I wish I could change what happened. I did it for Michel. You must believe me. I never would have done it if I thought you would get hurt.”

Marion sobs raggedly and lights another Lucky. “You are bad news Luc.”
“I'm so sorry.” replies Luc “I've just got one more thing to do and then we can leave Paris. Start anew.”

“I should have listened to my sister. “A fresh start? With a garden?”
“Oui. Côte d’Azur. La vie en rose.”
“Swimming in the sea before breakfast?”
“Ah oui, naturellement. Every day. I’ll call you in when the croissants are ready.”
“Oh Luc… not far to yours now.”

Luc opens the door to the apartment building. Into the lift, pulls the grid across. 4th floor.
“Merde. Why has it stopped? Whose are those feet?... Marion, hand me the case.”
“Take it. But… the key?”
Click. The lift goes up again. Marion and Luc breathe.
“Marion, take my hand.”
Luc opens the door to the apartment…

Bang at the door.
“Who’s that Luc?” asks Marion.
“Shush” whispers Luc.
“Do you want this silver box? I can hear my heart pounding. I’m scared Luc”
“Yes, but my hands are fumbling too much. You open it.”
“Here. Let me… “ Marion takes the box.

She glances down as she moves back towards the door. “Oh mon Dieu!”
“There’s a note. Smeared in blood. I can just read it. It says: ‘You're next’. Luc, I'm scared. Is the guy outside the door dead?”

“Well, someone's still banging at the door,” replies Luc, sarcastically.
“No need to be sarcastic,” fumes Marion.
“Open it then you fool.”
“Erm, OK.”
“But open the box first”
“Do you have the key?” asks Marion.
“No, I gave it to you.”
“Oh, here it is. Silly me…. Luc, it's a gun. Whaaaaa?”
“Of course it is you dumbass. “You do know how to use a gun? Careful, it's loaded.”
“Put your lips together and blow? Oh no, that's something else. Yes, you remember what I did during the war?”
“Stop making me laugh. This is serious. Listen to me” seethes Luc, through clenched teeth.
“Ok. I'll listen. What is it?”
“You open the door, all innocent like. I will hide behind this cupboard with the gun.”
“Good idea. Here, take it.”

Marion smoothes her hair, straightens her skirt and opens the door.
“Oh, hi. My, you’re handsome.”
‘Who is it?’ thinks Luc.
“Well, hello yourself. You’re a sight for sore eyes,” says the man at the door.
‘Whose sore eyes?’ thinks Luc.

“My name is Lucien. Enchanté. And you are...? I was expecting to see someone else .
‘Just don’t give away your real name’ thinks Luc.
“I’m Cecile” replies Marion. “Just a poor school teacher. Live on my own. Single. Won’t you come in?”

The man pulls the door shut behind him.

“Glass of wine, Lucien?”
‘Offer him a drink’ thinks Luc.
‘Already did,’ thinks Marion.

Luc reaches out to hide the gun box that Marion left out for all to see.
“No, don’t sit there. That chair over there. More comfy, and I can sit beside you,” says Marion.
“Are you always this welcoming to complete strangers?” asks the visitor. “You could get yourself into trouble.”
“Here’s your wine. So what brings you here?”
“Like I said, I was expecting someone else. Bit of a fool. And a misogynist.”
“Oh yes? Sounds all too familiar. Why do you need to see him?”
“He has something of mine. Something very precious.”
“Oh you're so intriguing, Lucien. I like that in a man.”
“I can see something else that's precious to Luc. And I want to make it mine. … You are sitting very close.”
“Oh excuse me, Julien. There’s barely room on this chair for two.”
Luc can't breathe. Adrenaline flows and blood pounds. His hands slip on the cool metal.

“Julien, what's that in your pocket?” asks Marion. “You must be pleased to see me.”
“I said I was called Lucien earlier. But no matter.”
“Oh, silly me. I'm a little... flustered.”
“It's not often that men come to visit?”
“Not ones as handsome and intriguing as you.”

“Stop. You must think I am stupid. I know your type.”

Luc seizes the moment and leaps out from behind the cupboard. Gun raised. Julien simultaneously takes a small pistol from his pocket and...


“Merde, I'm shot!”
“Who said that?”
“Me… over here… by the cupboard.”
“Oh Luc”
“Leave him Marion,” says Julien, “Yes, I do know your name.”
“B b but he is bleeding. What do you want? Take anything you like,” replies Marion.

“Do you have a lobster claw cracking thing in your kitchen? Give it to me.”
“Oh yes, always forget the name. I will go and get it.”
“Thanks. Now stand back. This might get .... messy.”

Marion returns stealthily and hits Julien over the head with a rolling pin.
“Ouch. What did you do that for?”
“My hand slipped. I obviously didn't hit you hard enough.” 

Marion deftly extracts the gun from the pool of blood oozing from Luc's right arm and presses it to Luc's temple.
“You bastard. You promised me so much.”


“And as for you Lucien, or should I say... Julien... Give me back that lobster claw cracker thing. Yes. That's right. It is funny.”
Marion kicks the pistol out of Julien's hand.
“You all thought I was a dumb blonde. Well I got news for you. I know what you came here for and you can’t have it. Luc promised me so much and he can pay up in death.”


“And so can you Julien. Who did they take me for? Ha ha ha!”
Marion lights yet another cigarette. And ponders. She takes the lobster claw cracker thingy and extracts Luc’s upper right molar. She goes to the back of the wardrobe and removes a panel, where there’s a jeweller's eye piece and a microfiche playing device.
‘This is what Julien wanted.’ Marion says to herself. ‘The precious diamond Luc hid in his tooth. And the bit of microfiche that says where the safe house is. Exactly. The diamond is just the start.’

She rummages in her bag for her car keys…
‘Ah, the safe house is in St Tropez. Nice this time of year. Ha ha ha.’
And drives off at speed. Top down. Wind in her hair.
‘St Tropez is always nice. Julien knew what he was doing.’
She turns the radio on. Loud. Jazz blares and Marion smiles for the first time in a long while.
‘No school for me on Monday!’ Marion thinks, ‘Ha ha ha. No school ever again. And no more men.’

Onto l'autoroute now. Very fast. Turn the music up even louder. Faster, faster. Louder, louder. Marion laughs a maniacal laugh and takes her eyes off the road. She reaches into the glove compartment for a lighter, still picking up speed, and lights another cigarette as the car veers across lanes.
'No more cares,' she thinks.
Hair blowing across her face. Car horns blaring. Weaving in and out of traffic.
Almost missed the St Tropez exit.


She reaches into the glove compartment again for the address, on the narrow windy mountain road. Skids. Hits crash barrier. Head against the window. Address in her hand. The car hangs over the edge of the cliff. 

Camera pans back as fire engine arrives. The firefighters cut an unconscious woman out of a car.... 

Fade to black...