The Wages of Fear (1953)
"Le salaire de la peur" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  |  16 February 1955 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 32,466 users  
Reviews: 136 user | 114 critic

In a decrepit South American village, men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.


(novel), (adaptation) (as H.G. Clouzot) , 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #171 | Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
M. Jo
Folco Lulli ...
Bimba (as Peter Van Eyck)
Linda (as Vera Clouzot)
William Tubbs ...
Bill O'Brien
Darío Moreno ...
Hernandez (as Dario Moreno)
Jo Dest ...
Antonio Centa ...
Camp Chief (as Centa)
Luis De Lima ...
Grégoire Gromoff
Joseph Palau-Fabre
Darling Légitimus ...
(as Miss Darling)


In the South American jungle supplies of nitroglycerin are needed at a remote oil field. The oil company pays four men to deliver the supplies in two trucks. A tense rivalry develops between the two sets of drivers and on the rough remote roads the slightest jolt can result in death. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


BRITISH ACADEMY AWARD FOR THE BEST FILM!... (original USA/Canada posters) See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | | | |

Release Date:

16 February 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wages of Fear  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Yves Montand and Charles Vanel both contracted conjunctivitis after filming in a pool of crude oil and being exposed to gas fumes. See more »


As the truck leaves town, when Linda is seen from inside the truck cab, she casts a shadow on the projection screen behind her that is showing the passing houses. See more »


Bill O'Brien: The Hell with the Union! There's plenty of tramps in town, all volunteers. I'm not worried. To get that bonus, they'll carry the entire charge on their backs.
Bradley: You mean you're gonna put those bums to work?
Bill O'Brien: Yes, Mr. Bradley, because those bums don't have any union, nor any families. And if they blow up, nobody'll come around bothering me for any contribution.
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User Reviews

One of the greatest movies ever made
6 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie is astonishing, a gritty story filmed in an ultra-real style that relies simply on the beauty of lighting and film to achieve its stunning effects. It seems from another world, which in a way, it is. The acting is superb: Montand's Mario is full of jerky movements and intense impulses but always maintains his Gallic savoir-faire, while Charles Vanel as Jo brings, at first at least, a type of macho to the screen that modern movie-makers simply do not comprehend. The rest of the cast, especially the camp chief, Luigi, and Peter van Eyck as Bimba are incredible, as is Vera Clouzot who is incomprehensibly but believably upbeat and innocent - and totally gorgeous - in the midst of the hellhole of a town they're all stuck in. Clouzot's directing is flawless - I don't think anyone has ever squeezed more tension with just a few essential scene elements. The trucks wheeze and grunt as well as they ever have in the movies - the only comparison is Spielberg's early gem, "The Duel", but Clouzot's automotive cinematics outdo even Spielberg. The stripped down existentialism of the characters, the starkness of their shared dilemma, the grim and grimy scenery, and the cinematography itself are all of a piece. The latter is what elevates this movie to the very top rank, including some of the most dramatic and effective black and white shooting I've ever seen. Yet it never becomes mannered or gratuitous - it is orchestrated with the rise - and rise! - of tension in the film. The final scene takes on a surreal as opposed to ultra-realistic quality that has its own logic. One last word about the acting - we don't see anything like it anymore. The self-conscious mannerism of method acting (which has had its own triumphs) and the toxic awareness of everyone from the actors to the audience, the camera, directors, etc. that each actor is a celebrity and potential artiste, has ruined that conviction that actors were once larger than life people before they went on-screen, that they came to acting as an outcome of living rough, unadorned, and yet imaginative lives as opposed to shooting for fame and fortune and celebrity within an artificial corporate star-making incubator.

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