The Wages of Fear
When: Jan. 13-15
Where: The Belcourt
Behold the greatest five-word high concept ever pitched for an action movie: “Nitro truck on bumpy road.” French suspense master Henri-Georges Clouzot’s legendary 1953 thriller starts off with an expository opening full of numbing tedium — but that’s precisely what’s required to explain why four itchy-fingered roughnecks in a Latin American hellhole would seize the chance to deliver two trucks full of volatile high explosives to an oil fire (for $2,000 apiece). Did we mention it’s over 300 miles of rocky road? On the edge of a cliff? Over a rickety wooden platform? With falling boulders? And that one rough jolt will reduce everyone involved to a smoking crater?
As Mike D’Angelo pointed out, Clouzot doesn’t use the typical Hitchcockian suspense mechanism of letting the audience in on some threat the characters don’t know. Instead, he lets the characters in on the danger as well — leaving us to bite our nails with them as they flinch at every modest jostle. Gallic badass Yves Montand became an international star with this role (which he reportedly almost skipped, rather than work with accused collaborator Clouzot); this is the restored version including the footage initially snipped for its 1950s U.S. release — which included some early swipes at ruthless American oil companies. Imagine.
(Hey, any chance of ever seeing William Friedkin’s 1977 remake Sorcerer on the big screen around here? We've posted the trailer below for comparison — dig that amazing Tangerine Dream synth score.)