The Wages of Fear (1953)
Reviewed on 2011 January 11
After seeing Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Diabolique, I hunted down a crispy Criterion Edition DVD of this flick.
A small South American village has more expatriate men than jobs to go around, until four job openings become available through SOC, an oil concern. The problem is that the work is transporting huge trucks full of sweaty nitroglycerin over horrible jungle roads. Still, a man’s gotta eat. Mario (Yves Montand) and Jo (Charles Vanel) sign up right away. Mario wants enough cash to leave town, and he feels safe with Jo, who seems to know everything and lived through most of it.
This is a grim movie, and the gritty black and white just made it more intense. The treatment of Vera Clouzot’s character was hard to swallow, but I just chalked it up to being another place and time. None of the characters were particularly decent or likable (well, Luigi was okay) but as nihilistic as this thing was, it didn’t matter. A lot of people felt this was anti-American, yet I didn’t get that vibe because I don’t think Clouzot wanted anyone here to be the driven snow. This was remade in the ’70s as Sorcerer, and I heard that version was good too, since it was directed by William Friedkin and had a wonderfully creepy score by Tangerine Dream. I think my next project will be hunting down a DVD of that.
Four chocolate morsels.