A seminal work in the thiller genre, Wages of Fear is a black and white French film from 1953, by the now almost forgotten director Henri-Georges Clouzot. It was later remade as Sorceror (I have no idea where the name came from!) by The Exorcist's William Friedkin. It is about guys who are more than just down on their luck - they long ago ran out of luck entirely. And are willing to hang it all out on the line for a few thousand bucks, just to escape their destitute South American village.
A very young and dashing looking Yves Montand stars as the out of luck Mario, who latches on to a confident and swaggering M. Jo. But there's no work to be had in this dusty South American town, and no way out. The local American oil company isn't hiring, until they need 4 drivers of 2 trucks to each bring a load of nitroglycerin up a twisting, bumpy mountain road, almost certain to blow them up. But if they make it, they get $2000 each, more than enough to escape their sweltering jungle prison.
It was an interesting movie, and once it got on the road, a very intense one as well. It took too long setting things up in the village, however. While it was nice getting to know the characters, the test of driving a highly explosive cargo across treacherous mountain roads is enough to keep you interested, without fully fleshed out (and then some) characters. And if you thought too much about some of the obstacles in their way and how they got around them, you would begin to see holes big enough to drive an explosive truck through (pun intended!). The ending was also all wrong and far too manipulative.
The DVD was nice, with a nice print and a pretty good job of sub titling. They didn't feel the need to subtitle the parts that were in English, which was nice (don't laugh - I've seen some movies that did - Lagaan for one), and there were very few times when the characters chattered on with a suspiciously short subtitle. All the parts were well acted, even if the woman as the love interest and the greedy heartless American boss got a little too close to caricature. There was an unexplained loss of courage for M. Jo, but the 4 drivers in particular were still well done. I'd encourage a rental of this movie, but you don't have to really pay much attention until they get on the road!
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Vera Clouzot, Charles Vanel, Yves Montand, Peter Van Eyck, Folco Lulli, William Tubs
Four tough vagabonds get the opportunity to escape the squalor of a Latin American village by transporting two truckloads of nitroglycerine over 300 miles of hazardous mountain roads.