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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Together with Diabolique, The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la Peur) earned Henri-Georges Clouzot the reputation as a "French Hitchcock." In truth, Clouzot's ability to sustain suspense may have even exceeded Hitchcock's; when originally released, Wages ran 155 tension-filled minutes. Based on the much-imitated novel by Georges Arnaud, theSee more details below

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Overview

Together with Diabolique, The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la Peur) earned Henri-Georges Clouzot the reputation as a "French Hitchcock." In truth, Clouzot's ability to sustain suspense may have even exceeded Hitchcock's; when originally released, Wages ran 155 tension-filled minutes. Based on the much-imitated novel by Georges Arnaud, the film is set in Central America. The Southern Oil Company, which pretty much rules the roost in the impoverished village of Las Piedras, sends out a call for long-distance truck drivers. Southern Oil's wages of 2,000 dollars per man are, literally, to die for -- the drivers are obliged to transport highly volatile nitroglycerine shipments across some of the most treacherous terrain on earth. Through expository dialogue, tense interactions and flashbacks, we become intimately acquainted with the four drivers who sign up for this death-defying mission: Corsican Yves Montand, Italian Folco Lulli, German Peter Van Eyck, and Frenchman Charles Vanel. The first half of the film slowly, methodically introduces the characters and their motivations. The second half -- the drive itself -- is a relentless, goosebump-inducing assault on the audience's senses. The winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival, The Wages of Fear was remade by William Friedkin as Sorcerer (1977).

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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:
04/21/2009
UPC:
0715515042512
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
2:27:00
Sales rank:
5,471

Special Features

Restored high definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Video interviews with assistant director Michel Romanoff and Clouzot biographer Marc Godin; Video 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 its 1955 U.S. release; Plus: A booklet featuring an essay by novelist Dennis Lehane

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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