« PSYCHO — CLASSIC FILM PICK | Main | PECKER »

March 01, 2009

THE WAGES OF FEAR — CLASSIC FILM PICK

The-wages-of-fearBefore making the classic shocker "Diobolique: (1955) Henri-Georges Clouzot constructed a brilliant politically-infused noir that brims with anti-corporate sentiment. Co-written with the story's novelist Georges Arnaud, the '50s era narrative is set in the fictional South American dustbowl town of Las Piedras. Four destitute men from various map points around the world sell out their driving services for $2000 to an American oil company (named "SOC") to transport two truck- loads of nitroglycerine across 300 miles of treacherous mountain road. Their effort is vital to putting out oil fires raging in a remote region.

The filmmaker introduces Yves Montands roguish Corsican character Mario with a scene of raw sensuality between Montand and Vera Clouzot (Cluzot's actress wife) as Linda, a cleaning woman who spends the scene scrubbing the floor at Mario's feet. "The Wages of Fear" elevated Yves Montand from the status of beloved French singer to international movie star. Cluzot's meticulous attention to detail extends to things like the 10-dollar bribe that the Parisian Jo (Charles Venal) pays to a local customs official to in the country. In Las Piedras, Jo meets the extroverted Mario who whistles a French tune that Jo also knows. An analogous organic sympathy exists between the Dutchman Bimba (Peter Van Eyck) and his Italian driving partner Luigi (Folco Lulli). 

Wagesoffear

The assemble-the-team plot shifts in the film's second half to an all-out adventure mission fraught with escalating dangers of the road that include giant boulders and a leaking oil spill. Driving trucks the size of small train locomotives the men face terrifying scenarios that compare well with the best CGI effects you've ever seen.

Everything in cinematographer Armand Thirard's neorealist compositions breathe with a rugged vitality. "The Wages of Fear" is as much about the origin of manufactured fear as it is about the folly of courage that feeds on it. 

Wages

Not Rated. 126 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

PATREON BUTTON

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos

COLE SMITHEY’S MOVIE WEEK

COLE SMITHEY’S CLASSIC CINEMA

Throwback Thursday


Podcast Series