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The Wages of Fear - Criterion Collection
The Wages of Fear - Criterion Collection
Actors: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli, Véra Clouzot
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     2hr 27min

In the squalid, impoverished South American town of Las Piedras, desperate men and women from all over the world scrape out a living and dream of escape, under the watchful eye of the ruling Southern Oil Company.


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Movie Details

Actors: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli, Véra Clouzot
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Creators: Armand Thirard, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Etiennette Muse, Raymond Borderie, Georges Arnaud, Jérôme Géronimi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/25/2005
Original Release Date: 02/16/1955
Theatrical Release Date: 02/16/1955
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 27min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 24
Edition: Special Edition,Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Great movie in 148-minute format
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wanted to amend my earlier review. I reviewed the 148-minute VHS version, which I highly recommend. I strongly caution against getting the (less expensive) 131-minute VHS version. The picture quality is very poor and the subtitles are often almost unreadable, i.e. white writing against an almost white background. The full-length VHS and DVD versions are terrific, with clear, crisp picture and perfectly legible subtitles."
karl b. | Fraser Valley, BC, Canada | 06/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It is difficult to overstate what a terrific blend of suspense, biting images, and nihilistic philosophy this film is. It works at several levels, the most compelling being a thoroughly existential treatment of the action adventure movie. Clouzot layers his irreverent cynicism into every aspect of the film, but it is actuated by the tight interplay of the characters. They are the kind of fugitives, hucksters, fortune seekers, down on their luckers you'd expect to find at a squalid, end of the world drilling camp. The director portrays them all in a dour, brave light as they struggle with futility and fear. The corruption, exploitation and innocence, are brought to a boil by a raging inferno and a couple of truck loads of nitroglycerine. Three hundred miles of rugged roads are all that separates these desperadoes from a ticket out of town. Clouzot rolls his audience into the drama with ingenious visual cues, cables stressed to snapping, tobacco blown from its paper. He uses no gimmicks, though, to impose an artificial sense of spectacle. Everything is shown with a taut authenticity. The film never loses its devil-me-care bravado in spite of all its tension and pathos. Clouzot intersperses little milestones of grace, in a prayer or a dance, with images of death. Alternately-- ambivalence, compassion and admiration are elicited for characters pushed beyond human boundaries and endurance. It resembles Treasure of the Sierra Madre (another excellent film), but caves in to none of its happy endings, higher ideals, saving benedictions. All here is carried out in a quiet desperation as every vestige of hope, purpose, escape are systematically sabotaged. All that is left is the moment, and survival. The scenes on the bridge, the oil pond, the road, are among the most unforgettable in cinema. The characters strive for freedom but are continually confronted with their interdependence and frailty. The director's final gesture, in the face of potential victory, provides a seal of consistency to this sinister, masterful brew. Clouzot delves into motivations, relationships, doubt. He challenges pat assumptions of life and destiny. It is a remarkable and original film, even more so in the context of the conventions imposed on Hollywood films of that era."
Well, the most suspenseful film I have ever seen
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are two things often said about this film that I would like to strongly agree with: first, it begins rather slowly, and second, it really is one of, if not THE, most suspenseful films ever made. The first third of the movie moves inexplicably slowly. I can understand many of the reasons why: the attempt to define the characters, to show their interactions with one another, to depict the quiet desperation of their live to make it plausible that four men would undertake such an astonishingly dangerous job as hauling nitroglycerin over treacherous jungle and mountains dirt roads. Even granting all that, however, the start is by any standard, really, really slow. And I suspect that a couple of the one star reviews proclaiming the film a bore either gave up before getting to the good parts or never recovered from the slow start. The most suspenseful film ever made? A couple of reviewers indicated that the film has been so over hyped along these lines that it would be impossible for any film to come up to one's expectations. There are two edges to this sword. I am far more impressed that despite being hyped as the most suspenseful film ever made, I was nonetheless utterly on the edge of my seat for most of the final 100 minutes. And if some of the scenes seem somewhat familiar, it is undoubtedly because of the score of films that have plundered this film for their own tension-filled scenes. I have often thought that Yves Montand was, at his best, one of the more compelling performers of the last half of the twentieth century. He wasn't consistently successful internationally. Sometimes one or two decades would come between some of his greatest triumphs. To illustrate, I think Montand's two greatest film appearances were THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953) and JEAN DE FLORETTE/MANON OF THE SPRING (1986), only thirty-three years apart. Finally, I have to agree somewhat with a couple of reviewers who disliked the ending. Nihilism was very fashionable in the early 1950s in European cinema. The ending, which seems completely unnecessary and not organically connected with the rest of the film, reflects less any inner necessity for a downer ending than the general mood in "serious" films at the time. So, in a sense, one could argue that this movie manages to be one of the great classics of cinema despite a slow beginning and an arbitrarily negativistic ending. Where the film shines is in the utterly riveting journey through the jungle and mountains."
karl b. | 08/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Wages of Fear" is one of the greatest films I'veever seen and vastly superior to William Freidkin's '70s remake as"Scorcerer." Prefect direction by Henri-Georges Clouzot, stunning b/w photography by Armand Thirard, and a great performance by Charles Vanel as "Jo:" "You're being paid to drive, I'm being paid to worry." Don't listen to those who say the first half of the film is boring, it's not if you enjoy solid character development. And Jo, while indeed a "whiner," is the film's most memorable character because he is so real. You've met a version of this guy in your own life at one time or another. The ending is hardly a let down either as some have stated... it's what life is all about."