The Wages Of Fear – Criterion Collection

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  • In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their expensive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves. The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) is one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloi

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In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their expensive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves. The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) is one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloid, a white-knuckle ride from France s legendary master of suspense Hen… More >>

The Wages Of Fear – Criterion Collection

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5 Comments
  1. Although this is a good movie, it is a very overrated movie. No matter what movie forum you visit you will always see this film averaging around five stars, and (in my opinion) it just doesn’t warrant that level of praise. This is just a theory, but I have a suspicion that old movies that have been deemed “classics” get a much more benevolent treatment when it comes to reviews. Perhaps this may be due to nostalgia. I’m not bashing old movies in general. In fact, many old movies appear on my Top 100 Films list (Billy Budd, Fail Safe, Psycho, Ben Hur, It’s A Wonderful Life, Zorba The Greek, The Virgin Spring, etc.) But like the vast majority of older movies, this film has acting that is way over the top (overacting) and dialog that is totally cornball. Some may rightly enjoy this campiness. I don’t. Another distracting thing about this film is that there are plot sequences (particularly relating to their trek with the explosives cargo) that were simply illogical and seemed to be capriciously thrown in so as to create a foundation for a thrill/action scene. The films cinematography and art direction are wonderful and that’s what will stand out in my memory of this film. I rented this movie out of curiosity because I think that its remake, Sorcerer, is one of those “best movies no one’s ever heard of”. That movie will make its way into my film library (when blu ray version comes), this one will not.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. I caught this film on cable about a year ago as I had made an agreement with myself to begin watching any and all classic films of note at least once. And though the film begins a little slow (ultimately serving its story well) it works itself into a tense action film like few you have seen. I was very glad I had made that agreement! Not of the MTV variety, but just great filmmaking. Do yourself a favor and see the film at least once. I look forward to purchasing the BLURAY version and watching it again next week.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. So these guys who need cash real bad take the crappy job of driving Nitro through an impossible terrain, then it’s suspense-o-plenty, and so even though the film is in B&W, French w/subtitles. Mono and square screen; all you big noisy movie fans (like me) need this film. (Re-mastered and now on Blu-Ray, it looks and sounds fantastic)
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. The Blu-ray is absolutely gorgeous, despite some negligible age related imperfections.

    I had seen, and been haunted by, this film before. Seeing it in the wake of our current Great Recession, I can’t shake it off as something that speaks to generations of Americans on the immediate horizon. As competition for low paying jobs increases and availability of jobs, decent or otherwise, dwindles, I foresee an America that nobody is expecting at the moment – a bitter, demoralized and mercenary America that sees its country not as a land of opportunity to be preserved, but as a land of obstacles that might as well go down in flames if there is the chance of anything to be gained from such a chaotic reordering. ‘The Wages of Fear’ sudenly looks to me like nothing so much as a chillingly accurate illustration of the exploitation-based system of employment that we are living with today, and which seems poised to become much, much worse. Hooray for the American way! The cost-cutting imperialism we impose in far-flung corners of the world is now having consequences at home, and soon we may not have to go to South America to find hellholes like Las Piedras where American corporate interests can reap the benefits of desperation. The denizens of the fictional town in this film are trapped there. Now we can find the same trap in our own back yard. How desperate would you have to become to put a dollar value on your life? If you don’t think it can happen, you haven’t seen much of this world. For the characters in this film there are two possible outcomes, one of them being sudden death, and the fact that either one constitutes an escape from a miserable existence makes the unthinkable risk they accept worthwhile. Is that better or worse than trading your life and your health a dime at a time?

    No need to discuss the plot, as many others already have.

    I watched ten minutes of the ‘Star Trek’ “reboot” before realizing that it would be the kind of hyperactively noisy, busy, overdone movie that casually dangles people off of precipices every few minutes to create an artificial sense of tension more akin to watching someone else play a video game than a cinematic experience. The nonstop cartoon violence had absolutely no dramatic weight. Then I turned it off and watched this. ‘The Wages of Fear,’ in sharp contrast, takes its sweet time setting up the characters and situations, with a level of intelligence and substance that might be alien to contemporary moviegoers. This pays such dividends in the second half that I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shots of tires rolling excruciatingly slowly over bumps and puddles that could play the death card at any moment create more unbearable tension than all of the CG explosions in the world. Clouzot knows that filling the screen with detonations can’t hold a candle to the simple threat of just ONE explosion invested with weighty, bloodcurdling consequence – we don’t even have to see it to feel personally ravaged by it. It is a powerful reminder of the art of cinematic storytelling, which has been all but completely lost. When was the last time you saw a movie that generated actual suspense, much less sustained it to near unbearability? ‘The Wages of Fear’ has that, an intelligent story, and sophisticated, surprising character development to boot. It also makes some pretty powerful (not to mention bitter) statements, but they always, always serve the narrative. This will make most everything you’ve seen in the theaters in the last couple of decades look pathetic and empty. Here is a study of the toxic and destructive nature of avarice that can stand tall beside the extraordinarily caustic likes of ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ and ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.’ If anything, the film has gained relevance, as a single brief shot of the oil concern’s private police force delivers an ugly jolt of 21st century recognition.

    The original French trailer calls it “a modern tragedy.” Those words are true in their most potent sense.

    An unqualified masterpiece given exemplary treatment by Criterion. Clouzot was one of the cinema’s geniuses.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. If I ever see a poor disc put out by Criterion I’ll be surprised, upset, and disappointed. The worst thing I could say about their discs is that they used cheap paper containers, which I can say has now been fixed. I got this movie in a clear Blu-ray case.

    The movie is perfect with nothing to detract from it’s appearance while screening. It’s also the uncut version, so don’t worry about that.

    There are lots of extras on the disc, though I haven’t watched them, and as such I won’t comment on them.

    All Criterions are for play in N.American players. Sorry everyone else.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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