Wages of Fear

Wages of Fear

4.7 10
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Cast: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter Van Eyck


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Henri-Georges Clouzot's groundbreaking thriller, in which four men with little to lose sign on to drive trucks loaded with delicate explosives through a mountain range riddled with potholes and dangerous turns, gets an upgraded DVD presentation in this release from The Criterion Collection. Le Salaire de la Peur (aka The Wages of Fear) has been…  See more details below


Henri-Georges Clouzot's groundbreaking thriller, in which four men with little to lose sign on to drive trucks loaded with delicate explosives through a mountain range riddled with potholes and dangerous turns, gets an upgraded DVD presentation in this release from The Criterion Collection. Le Salaire de la Peur (aka The Wages of Fear) has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the black-and-white images are rich and beautifully detailed throughout, looking as good as they did the day this picture was released in 1953. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and sounds nearly as good as the film looks; the dialogue is mostly in French and English, with optional and easy-to-read English subtitles included. The set's second disc features Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Enlightened Tyrant, a documentary produced for French television which looks at the life and career of the man who made this classic, including a number of exclusive interviews with his actors and collaborators. Also included are new interviews with Michel Romanoff, Clouzot's assistant director on the project, and Marc Godin, author of a biography of the filmmaker, while an excerpt from a 1988 television interview with Yves Montand features the French star talking about how working with Clouzot impacted his career. Finally, a bonus short looks at how the film was cut for its American premiere in 1955 (the original uncut European print appears on this DVD release), and a 24-page booklet includes an essay on The Wages of Fear from author Dennis Lehane as well as thoughts on Clouzot and the film from a number of people who worked with him. Criterion's upgraded edition of The Wages of Fear manages to improve on their excellent original release of the movie (long out of print), and is likely to remain the definitive home-video presentation of this landmark in French cinema.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Monica McIntyre
The ultimate road movie from hell, 1953's The Wages of Fear is a masterpiece of suspense with a brutal worldview. Trapped in a small, underdeveloped town in Central America, a group of European and American expatriates struggle to earn enough money to return home. When a raging fire erupts in an oilfield 300 miles away, the area's sole employer, the Southern Oil Company, devises a plan to contain the inferno that involves transporting two tons of nitroglycerine by truck over jagged terrain to the scene of the accident. The four men they hire for this extremely perilous mission -- a superb ensemble of Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Falco Lulli, and Peter Van Eyck -- are clearly in it for the money, and the company views them as expendable. Unlike most films using similar setups, though, director Henri-Georges Clouzot's isn't eager to turn his grimy quartet into heroes. Nor, though, is he interested in depicting the American oil company as anything but morally repugnant. This does nothing to detract from his brilliant control of the bleak odyssey that comprises the film's second half -- a study in suspense building that brings inevitable comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock's work. Shot to emphasize a sense of claustrophobic ennui and perfectly edited, this nail-biting drama delivers a poignant and pessimistic climax that leaves one feeling wrung, and thoroughly awed.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Le Salaire de la Peur is among the most suspenseful films of the 1950s, notable for slowly building character development and atmosphere before its dramatic climax. In its original 148-minute version, the story lags in spots as director Henri-Georges Clouzot indulges some anti-United States propaganda. Not surprisingly, the film was re-edited for release in the U.S., and many critics preferred the faster pacing and more focused narrative. International acclaim came quickly, including the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Yves Montand gives one of his best performances, though current-day audiences may find his character's chauvinism and condescension toward women unappealing. The female lead is strikingly played by Véra Clouzot, the director's wife. She had only a brief film career but appeared in two classics, this film and Les Diaboliques, which was also directed by her husband.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer; New and improved English subtitle translation; New video interviews with assistant director Michel Romanoff and Henri-Georges Clouzot biographer Marc Godin; Interview with Yves Montand from 1988; "Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Enlightened Tyrant," a 2004 documentary on the director's career; "Censored," an analysis of cuts made to the film for the 1955 U.S. release; 24-page booklet featuring novelist Dennis Lehane and a compilation of interviews with the cast and crew of the film

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Yves Montand Mario
Charles Vanel Jo
Peter Van Eyck Bimba
William Tubbs Bill O'Brien
Véra Clouzot Linda
Folco Lulli Luigi
Dario Moreno Hernandez
Antonio Centa Camp Chief
Jo Dest Smerloff

Technical Credits
Henri-Georges Clouzot Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Georges Auric Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Jerome Geronimi Screenwriter
Madeleine Gug Editor
Etiennette Muse Editor
Louis Nee Cinematographer
René Renoux Production Designer
Henri Rust Editor
William Robert Sivel Sound/Sound Designer
Armand Thirard Cinematographer
Louis Wipf Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Wages of Fear
1. Las Piedras [8:22]
2. Jo Arrives [7:19]
3. The Date [8:00]
4. Old Friends and Lovers [7:14]
5. Bar Brawl [5:46]
6. Victims [3:55]
7. Soc Recruits [5:50]
8. The Lucky Four [6:51]
9. Scared Stiff [7:20]
10. Linda Pleads [5:28]
11. Jo's Jitters [6:41]
12. Forty Miles Per Hour [:24]
13. Close Call [6:19]
14. Rotten Wood [4:55]
15. Jo Flees [5:35]
16. The Wages of Fear [8:04]
17. A Rock in the Road [4:59]
18. "Clear Out" [5:58]
19. A Presentable Corpse [7:07]
20. "I'm the Stonrgest" [5:53]
21. The Oil Pit [5:24]
22. Almost There [8:11]
23. The Reward [8:32]
24. Color Bars [3:38]
Disc #2 -- The Wages of Fear - Bonus Materials
1. Becoming a Filmmaker [7:14]
2. Wartime Films [7:35]
3. Shaping Actors [8:32]
4. The Wages of Fear [8:18]
5. Suspense Films [8:19]
6. La Vérité [5:41]
7. Clouzot's Vision [6:47]

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Cinemaniac More than 1 year ago
VINTAGE "THE WAGES OF FEAR" STILL THRILLS IN BLU-RAY Criterion's restored hi-def transfer of Henri-Georges Clouzot's controversial, visceral and prescient thriller still grabs the viewer by the throat for a breathless, nihilistic ride. This iconic film of suspense and despair was deemed "evil" by Time magazine during its 1955 US release. Based on the harrowing 1950 book by George Arnaud, it's a cautionary tale of the true blood toll of oil and greed. Filmed in 1951 and first shown in France in 1952, "The Wages of fear" (Le Salaire de la peur) is about four European men at the end of their ropes in a hell-hole of a South American village who accept a job from an American oil company to drive two trucks of unstable nitroglycerine along a treacherous mountain route to an oil fire. Clouzot, who made less than a dozen films including the acclaimed "Les Diaboliques" and "Quai des orfevres" never flinches from his vision. Although the first half seems a bit unfocused and meandering as we get to know our characters, the squalid S.A. setting and the uncaring, greed-driven, business-as-usual of the American oil company, the movie literally jump starts when the four hapless men hit the road in their two trucks overloaded with nitro. We know these men. And we ride with them and their emotions. Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck and Antonio Centa are terrific as the frantic, fraught drivers. There's a lot of post WW II existential angst in this tale and that's not surprising. After all, it is French and the ideas of Camus and Sartre permeate this film as they did the decade in which it was produced. My only memory of this film was a washed out video tape copy with impossible to read subtitles and later a faded 16mm print in film school. I've watched this Blu-ray version several times now and it is stunning. It looks like a print that just came from the lab. The black and white is crisp, with a wonderful range of grays, velvety shadows to silvery shimmers. And the subtitles are always easy to read and perfectly synched to the spoken French. The rhythm and meaning of the dialogue is not lost in the subtitles. This gritty film, devoid of sentimentality, follows men who live in fear. They know death is coming and yet continue with the task at hand until the end. Although my personal philosophy is not that of the drivers, it reminded me to relish the precious moments of life and to live it fully, bravely and in the moment. This is one in the rather small handful of great films in world cinema. It has never looked better. And it asks questions that are relevant today: How desperate are we in our need for oil? And what is the final price? Highest recommendation. Superior extras include: Interviews with assistant director Michel Romanoff, Clouzot biographer Marc Godlin and Yves Montand from 1988). A great documentary on Clouzot's career "The Enlightened Tyrant." "CENSORED," a revealing look at the cuts made for the initial 1955 U.S. release. And "No Exit," an insightful booklet/essay by novelist Dennis Lehane.
SOLARWRITER More than 1 year ago
Interesting how the corporate hack who wrote the official review does not even know the difference between Central America and the South American mainland. Venezuela is NOT in Central America it is on the mainland of South America. While the film does not name the country where the F! elese do you think it is !! Of course its Venezuela ! Then there is the usual laughable expression of dismay that the American oil company should be portrayed in a negative light. So how exactly should it be portrayed as a cross between GREENPEACE and AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL...NOT !! The actual historical and still on -going record of conduct is worse than the film shows a lot of horrible things have been done in the name of oil since this classic was made.
Firannion More than 1 year ago
Definitive white-knuckle thriller Hyperkinetic contemporary action movies pale in comparison to 'The Wages of Fear,' and contemporary directors would do well to learn from its grueling sustained tension. I always think of it as a film noir, in spite of the fact that the last two-thirds of the narrative progress in the glaring sunlight of an unforgiving, arid landscape. The nihilistic darkness of Clouzot's vision must have been too much for audiences of the 1950s, but seems perfectly suited to our modern sensibilities. It's a movie that richly deserves to be rediscovered. Just remember to sit down to watch the DVD with an empty bladder, because once you get hooked in, you won't want to put it on 'Pause' for anything!
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