Wages of Fear (8/6/12)

Wages of FearMovie One Hundred Eighty Four

A group of men are hired by an oil company to transport truckloads of nitroglycerin across rough terrain in The Wages of Fear.

In Las Piedras, a sleepy town in South America, work is hard to come by outside of the Southern Oil Company (SOC), which looms eerily in the background of the desolate town. After Mr. Jo (Charles Vanel) rolls into town, acting like a bigshot, Mario (Yves Montand) develops a close bond with his fellow Frenchman. Mr. Jo rubs the rest of the inhabitants the wrong way with his arrogance and attitude, including Mario’s former roommate, Luigi (Folco Lucci), and Bimba (Peter van Eyck). After an explosion at an SOC site several hundred miles away, the company decides to send trucks loaded with nitroglycerin to extinguish the fire. It’s too dangerous for unionized workers, so they gather up the best men from Las Piedras to make the harrowing journey for $2,000 apiece.

To call The Wages of Fear anything less than exhilarating and tense would be an understatement. From the moment Mr. Jo arrives, the tension begins to build. First, between the folks in town and then they set off for a journey none of the men expect to come back from. Be prepared because once those trucks full of the highly combustible material leave the SOC, the tension will likely make you sweat.

I had long heard of The Wages of Fear but had doubted the impact that it would have on me. A group of men driving trucks slowly across the South American landscape didn’t seem all that interesting or tense to me but the way that Clouzot sets up the story and characters is truly amazing. There are no “good guys” here, the men chosen have some likable traits but are, for the most part, jerks. They have become stuck in Las Piedras despite their differing nationalities and the money would go a long way for them.

The Wages of Fear also has an interesting censorship history outside of France. In several countries (the US included), the film was mauled by censors who deemed much of the film to be anti-American and even parts of the film were admonished for glorifying homosexuality. It should be noted that I picked up on neither of those themes throughout the film. The Criterion release of The Wages of Fear has some extras that detail the cuts made and the history behind this. They offer the film uncut as it was meant to be seen, and the release is amazing, as expected.

Few films have kept me on the edge of my seat the way that The Wages of Fear has, and it manages to keep the viewer firmly gripped by suspense for the entire second half of the film. This is a film I wish I had watched much sooner so I could keep revisiting it. Luckily, I will be reviewing The Wages of Fear‘s remake, Sorcerer, shortly.

I give it 5 loaded trucks on a rotting wooden platform out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


16 responses to “Wages of Fear (8/6/12)

  1. This Is One I’ve Never Seen Before.
    I’m Gonna Have To Check It Out Now.
    Thanks For The Info, Dude!
    I Simply LOVE Finding True Classics I’ve Not Yet Seen.
    Then I Get To Decide Just How Classic Said Classics Are! hehehe

  2. This a GREAT movie! Diabolique is another awesome one by Clouzot, if you haven’t seen it. I think it’s Criterion as well.

    Glorifying homosexuality? I sure don’t remember anything that even hinted at the subject. Good review.

    • Diabolique was my first foray into Clouzot’s work and it is also a Criterion (and another amazing one). Same here, even knowing that homosexuality was even an issue with some of the edits I didn’t see anything that made me understood what the hell they were talking about. Anti-Americanism I can sorta see, but I really don’t think that was the intention. Thanks!

    • You got flagged as spam for some reason. I hate when WP does that to legitimate bloggers, luckily I caught this one pretty quick.

      This definitely deserves a place on everyone’s list of films to see, like I said, I wish I had watched it much sooner.

      • That’s strange about the spam deal. I’ve had a couple of legit comments flagged as well. It must be a hiccup in the system. Either that or Akismet is trying to get their stats up. I’ve put this film on my list of gotta see it films.

  3. This is a great film and I’m glad you liked it. I definitely need to see it again. I know you mention your going to watch ‘Sorcerer’ soon and I was excited to see it as well, but ended up being very dissappointed. I did not feel that it was half as gripping as this one. The techno music score by Tangerine Dream becomes overbearing and Roy Scheider is a vastly inferior leading man when compared to Yves Montand, but of course you may see it differently.

    • My Sorcerer review will be the next one I write…And I was also hugely disappointed by it. Not that it’s a bad movie, it just goes in a different direction than I hoped. I liked the soundtrack and Scheider, but had no investment in the guerilla/politico storyline at all. There were no “remember to breathe” moments like in the original either.

  4. Pingback: Sorcerer (8/10/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  5. Pingback: My August Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  6. Pingback: My Movie Alphabet (part 2) | Andy Watches Movies

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