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The Wages of Fear (1953)

13 Jun


131m; France

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Cast: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel and Peter van Eyck

Synopsis: In a remote part of Venezuela right after World War II various European emigres look for work in the oil fields.  When a giant fire erupts, several of these men are hired to transport large stocks of nitroglycerine, which involves traversing a long stretch of treacherous terrain.  Fantastic acting and a truly suspenseful film.

(NYT) Where to watch: Kanopy and the Criterion Channel; available for rental on Amazon and iTunes.

Few jobs are as harrowing as the one four desperate expatriates undertake in this thrilling film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Men too broke to escape a sweaty Latin American village leap at the chance to earn $2,000 apiece driving an emergency shipment of nitroglycerin 300 miles to extinguish an oil inferno for an American company. The company, circumventing its union drivers and rules, provides open-bed trucks that lack even rudimentary safety features like shock absorbers.

One driver is Yves Montand in a breakthrough role, cigarette hanging from his lip and kerchief rakishly tied around his neck, as he grips the juddering steering wheel along treacherous jungle roads through this relentless, heart-stopping journey of teamwork, cowardice and betrayal. HELEN T. VERONGOS

 
 

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