Interview with assistant director Michel Romanoff, Interview
with Clouzot autobiographer Mark Godin, Interview with star
Yves Montand, Henri-Georges Clouzot - The Enlightened Tyrant,
Censored, Criterion booklet
The Wages of Fear is directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
and stars Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, and
Antonio Centa. The musical score is composed by Georges
Stranded in a South American oil mining town without
the funds or papers to get out, four men agree to take on
a well-paying but dangerous job - driving trucks loaded
with nitro glycerin to a recent fire site. Knowing it could
be their only way out, the foursome take two trucks and
begin heading down treacherous roads on which a single mistake
or accident could spell instant death. ***
The first third of this film tends to drag out endlessly,
introducing us to the characters well but taking too much
time to do so. But if you can endure that first (often tedious)
act, you'll be rewarded by some of the greatest suspense-ridden
moments to ever grace the silver screen. ***
While suspense is the name of the game in The Wages
of Fear, the film is as much a character drama as it is
a suspense thriller. We are introduced to the characters
early on, and quickly realize their situation and relationships.
This becomes all the more important as the tension on the
path to the oil fire site increases and these relationships
change substantially, and not always for the better. This
is a grim, gritty film that paints an ugly, realistic picture
and makes no apologies for its nature. It is morbid throughout,
and rightfully so. And that is what makes it a classic.
It's no surprise that the film maintains a strong reputation
as a classic, and even spawned an American remake entitled
Sorcerer, directed by William Friedkin and starring Roy
Image And Sound:
Again, Criterion has given us a superb remastering job.
Tons of dirt, debris, and print damage have been removed.
Throughout, the image is very clear and well-detailed. Grain
is visible throughout but never a distraction. The image
is supported nicely by a lossless mono soundtrack. Hands
down, the best the film has ever looked or sounded on a
home video format.
As usual, Criterion opens the gates and unleashes a
good deal of entertaining supplemental material. Interviews
are aplenty on this disc, and the interviewees include a
Clouzot biographer, the assistant director, and one of the
film's stars. Also included is a featurette focusing on
Clouzot, and one on the censorship that faced the film during
its initial stateside release. And as with all Criterion
releases, an informative booklet is included as well.