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The Wages of Fear (1953)

Le salaire de la peur (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Thriller | 16 February 1955 (USA)
In a decrepit South American village, four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.

Writers:

Georges Arnaud (novel), Henri-Georges Clouzot (adaptation) (as H.G. Clouzot) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Top Rated Movies #198 | Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Yves Montand ... Mario
Charles Vanel ... M. Jo
Folco Lulli ... Luigi
Peter van Eyck ... Bimba (as Peter Van Eyck)
Véra Clouzot ... Linda (as Vera Clouzot)
William Tubbs William Tubbs ... Bill O'Brien
Darío Moreno ... Hernandez (as Dario Moreno)
Jo Dest Jo Dest ... Smerloff
Antonio Centa ... Camp Chief (as Centa)
Luis De Lima Luis De Lima ... Bernardo
Grégoire Gromoff Grégoire Gromoff
Joseph Palau-Fabre Joseph Palau-Fabre
Faustini Faustini
Seguna Seguna
Darling Légitimus ... (as Miss Darling)
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Storyline

In the South American jungle supplies of nitroglycerin are needed at a remote oil field. The oil company pays four men to deliver the supplies in two trucks. A tense rivalry develops between the two sets of drivers and on the rough remote roads the slightest jolt can result in death. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A film drama of uncommon power! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | English | Spanish | German | Italian | Russian

Release Date:

16 February 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wages of Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

Poulx, Gard, France See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,098
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (director's cut) (2017 restoration)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Yves Montand's first dramatic role. See more »

Goofs

When Jo gets out of the truck, there is not room for the other truck to pass. The road is obviously only one lane wide in that place. See more »

Quotes

Mario: wherever there's oil there's americans.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was cut for U.S. distribution in 1954, in part due to scenes that denounced crooked U.S. business interests in Latin America. The Criterion Collection laserdisc restored the film to its uncut version with 21 minutes of footage removed from other versions of the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rich Hall's Continental Drifters (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Valentine
Music by Henri Christiné
Whistled by Yves Montand and Charles Vanel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Tense, fearless
9 July 2016 | by dfranzen70See all my reviews

In The Wages of Fear, four men in a remote South American town have the enviable task of transporting a metric buttload (technical term) of nitroglycerin across mountainous roads in poor condition. It's a taut, superbly suspenseful thriller, guided with a steady hand by director Henri-Georges Clouzot, who would go on to direct the classic Diabolique in 1955.

Yves Montand, in a rare dramatic role, plays Mario, the ostensible protagonist of our tale. He's been stuck in this backwater for some time, but it costs a lot of money to get out – plane fares are through the roof, and there's no train, and there's no neighboring village. In short, you're stuck there until you can buy a ticket – and pay for a passport, of course.

Mario spends his days looking for work, wooing tavern worker Linda, and despairing about the lack of work. There's an American oil company in town, but they're no longer hiring. His monotonous lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of fellow expat Jo (Charles Vanel), a tough-looking older man who quickly wins Mario's favor at the expense of the rest of the men in town.

The oil company, in fact, has its own problem – one of their large derricks has exploded, causing a huge oil fire. Company man Bill O'Brien decides to send two trucks loaded with nitro from the town up the mountain to the derrick. (The eventual idea is to set off charges, which will somehow contain or extinguish the fire.) O'Brien has no trouble scaring up volunteers for the task, since the men of the town are largely unemployed. Four men will be selected to take the two trucks. Only one truck is needed; the second is truly just in case there's an accident with the first one. The men will receive $2000 when the work is finished, more than enough to secure passage out of the backwater.

Mario and Jo are chosen, as are Mario's roommate Luigi (Folco Lulli) and German expat Bimba (Peter van Eyck). The two trucks depart early in the morning, full of gas and of nitro. Danger awaits.

Theirs is not an easy task. The road is full of ruts. In one place, the wooden deck that trucks use to make a sharp turn up the mountain has been damaged from disuse. It's hot and muggy. And one has to be very, very careful, as even the smallest bump might set the whole shebang off. There's also tension among the four drivers – Luigi is unhappy that Mario is spending more time with Jo than with him, Mario is unhappy with what he perceives as Jo's cowardice. Bimba seems to get along with everyone, though.

The whole time I was watching this movie, I was certain not all four were going to make it. I will not spoil what is now a sixty-three-year-old movie, but I was still genuinely surprised by the ending. This ain't no fairy tale or sitcom. This is a movie about desperation, redemption, sacrifice, and comeuppance. It's not necessarily about justice.

The Wages of Fear is a singularly terrific movie from start to finish, exquisitely shot and expertly written. Its money maker is its tension, something present here in spades. The writing is impeccable; even personality changes make perfect sense within the film's context. There are intricacies within a straightforward plot. This is a must see for lovers of thrillers.


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