The Wages of Fear

1953

Adventure / Drama / Thriller

10
IMDb Rating 8.1 10 45676

Synopsis


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1.21 GB
988*720
French
NR
24 fps
2hr 11 min
P/S 3 / 20
2.38 GB
1472*1072
French
NR
24 fps
2hr 11 min
P/S 8 / 30

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by barleeku 10 / 10

One of the greatest movies ever made

This movie is astonishing, a gritty story filmed in an ultra-real style that relies simply on the beauty of lighting and film to achieve its stunning effects. It seems from another world, which in a way, it is. The acting is superb: Montand's Mario is full of jerky movements and intense impulses but always maintains his Gallic savoir-faire, while Charles Vanel as Jo brings, at first at least, a type of macho to the screen that modern movie-makers simply do not comprehend. The rest of the cast, especially the camp chief, Luigi, and Peter van Eyck as Bimba are incredible, as is Vera Clouzot who is incomprehensibly but believably upbeat and innocent - and totally gorgeous - in the midst of the hellhole of a town they're all stuck in. Clouzot's directing is flawless - I don't think anyone has ever squeezed more tension with just a few essential scene elements. The trucks wheeze and grunt as well as they ever have in the movies - the only comparison is Spielberg's early gem, "The Duel", but Clouzot's automotive cinematics outdo even Spielberg. The stripped down existentialism of the characters, the starkness of their shared dilemma, the grim and grimy scenery, and the cinematography itself are all of a piece. The latter is what elevates this movie to the very top rank, including some of the most dramatic and effective black and white shooting I've ever seen. Yet it never becomes mannered or gratuitous - it is orchestrated with the rise - and rise! - of tension in the film. The final scene takes on a surreal as opposed to ultra-realistic quality that has its own logic. One last word about the acting - we don't see anything like it anymore. The self-conscious mannerism of method acting (which has had its own triumphs) and the toxic awareness of everyone from the actors to the audience, the camera, directors, etc. that each actor is a celebrity and potential artiste, has ruined that conviction that actors were once larger than life people before they went on-screen, that they came to acting as an outcome of living rough, unadorned, and yet imaginative lives as opposed to shooting for fame and fortune and celebrity within an artificial corporate star-making incubator.

Reviewed by Galina 9 / 10

A gripping action film and a powerful study of failure

"The Wages of Fear" was awarded by unanimous verdict the Grand Prix at 1953 Cannes Film Festival where it won over 27 films, some of which were made by Jacques Tati, Alfred Hitchcock, and Luis Buñuel. Cluozot's own screenplay (based a novel by George Arnaud) focuses on four down-and-out European adventurers (Yves Montand, Folco Lulli, Peter Van Eyck, Charles Vanel) who stuck nearly penniless in a festering town in an unnamed South American country. An oil company need a load of highly dangerous and explosive nitroglycerin to be delivered to a remote well fire 300 miles away burning out of control. The route is through jungles and over crude and treacherous mountains and those men are desperate enough to take the chance. None of these men is heroic or generous, they are in for the money. The four were chosen by the managers of oil company because "if something happens to them, no one would care, they have nobody to worry about them". Henri-Georges Clouzot's view on humanity is not particularly optimistic but he finds a way to make a viewer care about disenchanted but desperate characters. Thanks to Clouzot's ability to create not only a gripping action film but a powerful study of failure, the four men will stay for long time in our memory.

Reviewed by Dennis Littrell 10 / 10

Macho naturalism extraordinaire

This is an extraordinary movie. From the opening scene showing the squalor of a Latin American town with filth and vultures in the street and naked children begging for food amid the oppressive, fly-stirred heat, to the finale on a winding mountain road, it is just plain fascinating. True, some of the action does not bear close scrutiny. One does not siphon nitroclycerine nor does one avoid potholes or bumps in the road by driving at forty miles per hour. No matter. Let's allow a little license. And the title doesn't entirely make sense because the wages of sin are death, but the wages of those who followed their fear and did not seek to drive a nitroclycerine truck over 300 miles of bad road are life. Again, no matter.

This is such an original movie, every scene like little or nothing you've ever seen before (and for sure will never see again), that the little inconsistencies and some stretching of what is possible are not important. This is man against nature, man against himself reduced to a simple task. It is life in the raw. One mistake and you are dead.

Yves Montand has the lead as Mario, a Frenchman stranded in this god-forsaken town with only one way out: get enough money to pay for airfare. Charles Vanel is the older, tin-horn dandy who ends up with a case of the shakes. Peter Van Eyck is the man with the nerves of steel who finds this little adventure a piece of cake after forced labor in the salt mines for the Nazis. And Folco Lulli is Luigi, the happy, singing baker who hopes to return to Italy with the two thousand dollars they are paying him to drive the nitro-loaded truck.

This is a film depicting the primitive nature of a macho mentality. There's a lot of posturing. Every event is a potential test of manhood. Status and privilege are flouted. The weak and the poor do not inherit the earth.

Henri-Georges Clouzet directs and somehow manages to come up with a work of genius. One wonders how. The story, on the face of it, would seem to belong in the slush pile of a ten-cent pulp fiction mag from the 1930's. The acting is good, very good in places, but not great. The cinematography is straightforward, but nonetheless very effective. It is lean and focused always, showing us what needs to be seen without drawing attention to itself: the invisible style, which is the best. Clouzet's direction is characterized by a vivid depiction of things that we can feel: the mud and filth in the streets, the desperation and the boredom, the cruelty and meanness of men, the oil on their bodies, the singular fact of a ton of nitro in the back seat so that every move is a neuron-exposing adventure. I think that the visceral experience from beginning to end and the fine pacing are the essence of what makes this a great film.

Clouzet's wife, Vera Clouzet, plays Linda who first appears scrubbing the floor in an open-air bistro. She is rather extraordinary herself, finely made up and creamy white like a star of the silent film era. She grovels a lot, especially for Mario. She provides the counter-point, the contrast for the testosterone action of the movie.

No student of film should miss this. It would be like missing Citizen Kane or Dr. Strangelove or especially The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which it vaguely and strangely resembles. "La salaire de la peur" is, regardless of its flaws, one of the best ever made.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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