The Info List - The Wages Of Fear

The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(French: Le salaire de la peur) is a 1953 French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand, and based on the 1950 French novel Le salaire de la peur (lit. "The Salary of Fear") by Georges Arnaud. When an oil well owned by an American company catches fire, the company hires four European men, down on their luck, to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, loaded with nitroglycerine needed to extinguish the flames. The film brought Clouzot international fame, and allowed him to direct Les Diaboliques. In France, it was the 4th highest-grossing film of the year with a total of 6,944,306 admissions.[2]


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Reception 4 Awards 5 Remakes 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Plot[edit] Frenchmen Mario and Jo, German Bimba and Italian Luigi are stuck in the isolated town of Las Piedras. Surrounded by desert, the town is linked to the outside world only by a small airport, but the airfare is beyond the means of the men. There is little opportunity for employment aside from the American corporation that dominates the town, Southern Oil Company (SOC), which operates the nearby oil fields and owns a walled compound within the town. SOC is suspected of unethical practices such as exploiting local workers and taking the law into its own hands, but the townspeople's dependence upon it is such that they suffer in silence. Mario is a sarcastic Corsican playboy, who treats his devoted lover, Linda, with disdain. Jo is an aging ex-gangster who just recently found himself stranded in the town. Bimba is an intense, quiet man whose father was murdered by the Nazis, and who himself worked for three years in a salt mine. Luigi, Mario's roommate, is a jovial, hardworking man, who has just learned that he is dying from cement dust in his lungs. Mario befriends Jo due to their common background of having lived in Paris, but a rift develops between Jo and the other cantina regulars because of his combative, arrogant personality. A massive fire erupts at one of the SOC oil fields. The only way to extinguish the flames and cap the well is an explosion caused by nitroglycerine. With short notice and lack of proper equipment, it must be transported within jerrycans placed in two large trucks from the SOC headquarters, 300 miles away. Due to the poor condition of the roads and the highly volatile nature of nitroglycerine, the job is considered too dangerous for the unionized SOC employees. The company foreman, Bill O'Brien, recruits truck drivers from the local community. Despite the dangers, many of the locals volunteer, lured by the high pay: US$2,000 per driver. This is a fortune to them, and the money is seen by some as the only way out of their dead-end lives. The pool of applicants is narrowed down to four handpicked drivers: Mario, Bimba and Luigi are chosen, along with a German named Smerloff. Smerloff fails to appear on the appointed day, so Jo, who knows O' Brien from his bootlegging days, is substituted in his place. The other drivers suspect that Jo intimidated Smerloff in some way to facilitate his own hiring. Jo and Mario transport the nitroglycerin in one vehicle; Luigi and Bimba in the other, with thirty minutes separating them in order to limit potential casualties. The drivers are forced to deal with a series of physical and mental obstacles, including a stretch of extremely rough road called "the washboard", a construction barricade that forces them to teeter around a rotten platform above a precipice, and a boulder blocking the road. Jo finds that his nerves are not what they used to be, and the others confront Jo about his increasing cowardice. Finally, Luigi and Bimba's truck explodes without warning, killing them both. Mario and Jo arrive at the scene of the explosion only to find a large crater rapidly filling with oil from a pipeline ruptured in the blast. Jo exits the vehicle to help Mario navigate through the oil-filled crater. The truck, however, is in danger of becoming bogged down and during their frantic attempts to prevent it from getting stuck, Mario runs over Jo. Although the vehicle is ultimately freed from the muck, Jo is mortally wounded. On their arrival at the oil field, Mario and Jo are hailed as heroes, but Jo is dead and Mario collapses from exhaustion. Upon his recovery, Mario heads home in the same truck, now freed of its dangerous cargo. He collects double the wages following his friends' deaths, and refuses the appointed chauffeur offered by SOC. Mario jubilantly drives down a mountain road, while a party is being held at the cantina back in town where Mario's friends eagerly await his arrival. Mario swerves recklessly and intentionally, having cheated death so many times on the same road. He takes one corner too fast and plunges through the guardrail to his death. Linda, dancing in the cantina, appears to faint. Cast[edit]

Yves Montand
Yves Montand
as Mario Charles Vanel
Charles Vanel
as Jo Folco Lulli
Folco Lulli
as Luigi Peter van Eyck as Bimba Véra Clouzot
Véra Clouzot
as Linda William Tubbs as Bill O'Brien Darío Moreno as Hernandez Jo Dest as Smerloff Luis De Lima as Bernardo Antonio Centa
Antonio Centa
as Camp Chief Darling Légitimus
Darling Légitimus
as Rosa


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The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
was critically hailed upon its original release. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times
The New York Times
wrote "The excitement derives entirely from the awareness of nitroglycerine and the gingerly, breathless handling of it. You sit there waiting for the theatre to explode."[3] The film was also a hit with the public gaining 6,944,306 Admissions in France where it was the 4th highest earning film of the year.[4][5] In 1982, Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael
called it "an existential thriller—the most original and shocking French melodrama of the 50s. ... When you can be blown up at any moment only a fool believes that character determines fate. ... If this isn't a parable of man's position in the modern world, it's at least an illustration of it. ... The violence ... is used to force a vision of human existence."[6] In 1992, Roger Ebert stated that "The film's extended suspense sequences deserve a place among the great stretches of cinema."[7] Leonard Maltin
Leonard Maltin
awarded the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars,calling it a "marvelously gritty and extremely suspenseful epic".[8] In 2010, the film was ranked #9 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema."[9] It currently holds a 100% approval rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
aggregated from 41 reviews.[10] Due to the negative portrayal of the fictional American oil company SOC, the film was accused of anti-Americanism and several scenes were cut for the U.S. release. In 1999, the Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection
released a DVD which included 21 minutes of film which had been removed for the U.S. version.[citation needed] Awards[edit] The film is unique in that it won both the Golden Bear
Golden Bear
and the Palme d'Or.

1953 Berlin Film Festival: Golden Bear[11] 1953 Cannes Film Festival: Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (Palme d'Or)[12]

Remakes[edit] Violent Road
Violent Road
(aka Hell's Highway), directed by Howard W. Koch
Howard W. Koch
in 1958, and Sorcerer, directed by William Friedkin
William Friedkin
in 1977, are American remakes. The first is not credited as such. The second was described by the director as an adaptation of the original novel.[13] See also[edit] The Goon Show
Goon Show
episode "The Fear of Wages" was inspired by the 1953 film.[citation needed] References[edit]

^ "Le Salaire de la Peur". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved 26 October 2012.  ^ "Le Salaire de la peur (1953)". jpbox-office.com. 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ "The Wages of Fear". rottentomatoes.com. 1 January 1953. Retrieved 20 April 2016.  ^ "Le Salaire de la peur (1953)". jpbox-office.com. 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ "1953 at the box office". Box Office Story.  ^ Kael, Pauline (1991). 5001 Nights at the Movies. New York: Holt Paperbacks. p. 821. ISBN 978-0-8050-1367-2.  ^ Ebert, Roger (6 March 1992). " The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
Movie Review (1955)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 1512. ISBN 9780451418104.  ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema: 9. The Wages of Fear". Empire. 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ "The Wages of Fear". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 May 2014.  ^ "3rd Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Wages of Fear". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 October 2014.  ^ William Friedkin, The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir, HarperCollins Publishers, 2013. Memoir of the director.

External links[edit]

The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
on IMDb The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
at AllMovie The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
at Rotten Tomatoes Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection
essay by Dennis Lehane

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Films directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Feature films

All for Love (1933) The Murderer Lives at Number 21
The Murderer Lives at Number 21
(1942) Le Corbeau
Le Corbeau
(1943) Quai des Orfèvres
Quai des Orfèvres
(1947) Manon (1949) Miquette (1950) The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(1953) Les Diaboliques (1955) Les Espions
Les Espions
(1957) The Truth (1960) La prisonnière (1968)

Short films

Return to Life
Return to Life
(1949, segment "Le Retour de Jean")


The Mystery of Picasso
The Mystery of Picasso

Unfinished films

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno

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Palme d'Or
Palme d'Or
winning films

Union Pacific (1939) Torment (Hets) (1946) The Lost Weekend (1946) The Red Meadows (1946) Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter
(1946) María Candelaria
María Candelaria
(1946) Neecha Nagar (1946) The Turning Point (1946) La Symphonie pastorale (1946) The Last Chance (1946) Men Without Wings (1946) Rome, Open City
Rome, Open City
(1946) The Third Man
The Third Man
(1949) Miss Julie (1951) Miracle in Milan
Miracle in Milan
(1951) The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1951) Two Cents Worth of Hope
Two Cents Worth of Hope
(1952) The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(1953) Gate of Hell (1954) Marty (1955) The Silent World
The Silent World
(1956) Friendly Persuasion (1957) The Cranes Are Flying
The Cranes Are Flying
(1958) Black Orpheus
Black Orpheus
(1959) La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita
(1960) The Long Absence
The Long Absence
(1961) Viridiana
(1961) O Pagador de Promessas
O Pagador de Promessas
(1962) The Leopard (1963) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
(1964) The Knack ...and How to Get It
The Knack ...and How to Get It
(1965) A Man and a Woman
A Man and a Woman
(1966) The Birds, the Bees and the Italians
(1966) Blowup
(1967) if.... (1969) MASH (1970) The Go-Between (1971) The Working Class Goes to Heaven
The Working Class Goes to Heaven
(1972) The Mattei Affair
The Mattei Affair
(1972) The Hireling (1973) Scarecrow (1973) The Conversation
The Conversation
(1974) Chronicle of the Years of Fire
Chronicle of the Years of Fire
(1975) Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver
(1976) Padre Padrone
Padre Padrone
(1977) The Tree of Wooden Clogs
The Tree of Wooden Clogs
(1978) Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
(1979) The Tin Drum (1979) All That Jazz (1980) Kagemusha
(1980) Man of Iron (1981) Missing (1982) Yol
(1982) The Ballad of Narayama (1983) Paris, Texas (1984) When Father Was Away on Business (1985) The Mission (1986) Under the Sun of Satan (1987) Pelle the Conqueror
Pelle the Conqueror
(1988) Sex, Lies, and Videotape
Sex, Lies, and Videotape
(1989) Wild at Heart (1990) Barton Fink
Barton Fink
(1991) The Best Intentions
The Best Intentions
(1992) Farewell My Concubine (1993) The Piano
The Piano
(1993) Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction
(1994) Underground (1995) Secrets & Lies (1996) Taste of Cherry
Taste of Cherry
(1997) The Eel (1997) Eternity and a Day
Eternity and a Day
(1998) Rosetta (1999) Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark
(2000) The Son's Room
The Son's Room
(2001) The Pianist (2002) Elephant (2003) Fahrenheit 9/11
Fahrenheit 9/11
(2004) The Child (2005) The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
(2007) The Class (2008) The White Ribbon
The White Ribbon
(2009) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
(2010) The Tree of Life (2011) Amour (2012) Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour
(2013) Winter Sleep (2014) Dheepan
(2015) I, Daniel Blake (2016) The Square (2017)

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Golden Bear-winning films

Four in a Jeep
Four in a Jeep
/ Without Leaving an Address
Without Leaving an Address
/ In Beaver Valley / Justice Is Done
Justice Is Done
/ Cinderella (1951) One Summer of Happiness
One Summer of Happiness
(1952) The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(1953) Hobson's Choice (1954) Die Ratten (1955) Invitation to the Dance (1956) 12 Angry Men (1957) Wild Strawberries (1958) Les Cousins (1959) El Lazarillo de Tormes
El Lazarillo de Tormes
(1960) La Notte
La Notte
(1961) A Kind of Loving (1962) To Bed or Not to Bed
To Bed or Not to Bed
/ Bushido, Samurai Saga
Bushido, Samurai Saga
(1963) Dry Summer
Dry Summer
(1964) Alphaville (1965) Cul-de-sac (1966) The Departure (1967) Who Saw Him Die?
Who Saw Him Die?
(1968) Early Works (1969) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1971) The Canterbury Tales (1972) Distant Thunder (1973) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) Adoption (1975) Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
(1976) The Ascent
The Ascent
(1977) Ascensor / Las truchas / What Max Said (1978) David (1979) Heartland / Palermo or Wolfsburg (1980) Deprisa, Deprisa
Deprisa, Deprisa
(1981) Veronika Voss
Veronika Voss
(1982) Ascendancy / La colmena (1983) Love Streams (1984) The Woman and the Stranger / Wetherby (1985) Stammheim (1986) The Theme
The Theme
(1987) Red Sorghum (1988) Rain Man
Rain Man
(1989) Music Box / Larks on a String
Larks on a String
(1990) The House of Smiles
The House of Smiles
(1991) Grand Canyon (1992) Woman Sesame Oil Maker / The Wedding Banquet
The Wedding Banquet
(1993) In the Name of the Father (1994) The Bait (1995) Sense and Sensibility (1996) The People vs. Larry Flynt
The People vs. Larry Flynt
(1997) Central Station (1998) The Thin Red Line (1999) Magnolia (2000) Intimacy (2001) Spirited Away
Spirited Away
/ Bloody Sunday (2002) In This World
In This World
(2003) Head-On (2004) U-Carmen eKhayelitsha
U-Carmen eKhayelitsha
(2005) Grbavica (2006) Tuya's Marriage
Tuya's Marriage
(2007) Elite Squad (2008) The Milk of Sorrow
The Milk of Sorrow
(2009) Honey (2010) A Separation (2011) Caesar Must Die
Caesar Must Die
(2012) Child's Pose (2013) Black Coal, Thin Ice
Black Coal, Thin Ice
(2014) Taxi (2015) Fire at Sea (2016) On Body and Soul
On Body and Soul
(2017) Touch Me Not
Touch Me Not

v t e

BAFTA Award for Best Film


The Best Years of Our Lives
The Best Years of Our Lives
(1947) Hamlet (1948) Bicycle Thieves
Bicycle Thieves


All About Eve
All About Eve
(1950) La Ronde (1951) The Sound Barrier
The Sound Barrier
(1952) Forbidden Games
Forbidden Games
(1953) The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(1954) Richard III (1955) Gervaise (1956) The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai
(1957) Room at the Top (1958) Ben-Hur (1959)


The Apartment
The Apartment
(1960) Ballad of a Soldier
Ballad of a Soldier
(1961) The Hustler (1961) Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Tom Jones (1963) Dr. Strangelove
Dr. Strangelove
or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) My Fair Lady (1965) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) A Man for All Seasons (1967) The Graduate (1968) Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(1970) Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) Cabaret (1972) Day for Night (1973) Lacombe, Lucien
Lacombe, Lucien
(1974) Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
(1975) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1976) Annie Hall
Annie Hall
(1977) Julia (1978) Manhattan (1979)


The Elephant Man (1980) Chariots of Fire
Chariots of Fire
(1981) Gandhi (1982) Educating Rita (1983) The Killing Fields (1984) The Purple Rose of Cairo
The Purple Rose of Cairo
(1985) A Room with a View (1986) Jean de Florette
Jean de Florette
(1987) The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor
(1988) Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society


Goodfellas (1990) The Commitments (1991) Howards End (1992) Schindler's List
Schindler's List
(1993) Four Weddings and a Funeral
Four Weddings and a Funeral
(1994) Sense and Sensibility (1995) The English Patient (1996) The Full Monty
The Full Monty
(1997) Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in Love
(1998) American Beauty (1999)


Gladiator (2000) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) The Pianist (2002) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) The Aviator (2004) Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain
(2005) The Queen (2006) Atonement (2007) Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire
(2008) The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker


The King's Speech
The King's Speech
(2010) The Artist (2011) Argo (2012) 12 Years a Slave (2013) Boyhood (2014) The Revenant (2015) La La Land (2016) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 316751848 GND: 7560769-4 SUDOC: 084667184 BNF: cb1664