8.1/10
48,902
157 user 134 critic

The Wages of Fear (1953)

Le salaire de la peur (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama, Thriller | 16 February 1955 (USA)
In a decrepit South American village, four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.

Writers:

Georges Arnaud (novel), Henri-Georges Clouzot (adaptation) (as H.G. Clouzot) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #194 | Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Diabolique (1955)
Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal hatch a plan to murder him while having the perfect alibi. They carry out the plan...but then his body disappears.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Stars: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse
The 400 Blows (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley
Tokyo Story (1953)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Stars: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A waifish prostitute wanders the streets of Rome looking for true love but finds only heartbreak.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi
Certificate: Passed Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Ikiru (1952)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori
Andrei Rublev (1966)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer St. Andrei Rublev.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko
Sunrise (1927)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston
Come and See (1985)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After finding an old rifle, a young boy joins the Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces and experiences the horrors of World War II.

Director: Elem Klimov
Stars: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In 1948, an American court in occupied Germany tries four Nazis judged for war crimes.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Action | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A film projectionist longs to be a detective, and puts his meagre skills to work when he is framed by a rival for stealing his girlfriend's father's pocketwatch.

Director: Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Yves Montand ... Mario
Charles Vanel ... M. Jo
Folco Lulli ... Luigi
Peter van Eyck ... Bimba (as Peter Van Eyck)
Véra Clouzot ... Linda (as Vera Clouzot)
William Tubbs William Tubbs ... Bill O'Brien
Darío Moreno ... Hernandez (as Dario Moreno)
Jo Dest Jo Dest ... Smerloff
Antonio Centa ... Camp Chief (as Centa)
Luis De Lima Luis De Lima ... Bernardo
Grégoire Gromoff Grégoire Gromoff
Joseph Palau-Fabre Joseph Palau-Fabre
Faustini Faustini
Seguna Seguna
Darling Légitimus ... (as Miss Darling)
Edit

Storyline

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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The complete restored version of the 1953 French classic [reissue] See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | English | Spanish | German | Italian | Russian

Release Date:

16 February 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wages of Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

Poulx, Gard, France See more »

Edit

Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,098
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (director's cut) (2017 restoration)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

The truck is clean after driving through oil. See more »

Quotes

Mario: wherever there's oil there's americans.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original uncensored release in France ran 152 minutes. The so-called "director's cut" runs 148 minutes. See more »

Connections

Remade as Sorcerer (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

The Blue Danube
Composed by Johann Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Tense, fearless
9 July 2016 | by dfranzen70See all my reviews

In The Wages of Fear, four men in a remote South American town have the enviable task of transporting a metric buttload (technical term) of nitroglycerin across mountainous roads in poor condition. It's a taut, superbly suspenseful thriller, guided with a steady hand by director Henri-Georges Clouzot, who would go on to direct the classic Diabolique in 1955.

Yves Montand, in a rare dramatic role, plays Mario, the ostensible protagonist of our tale. He's been stuck in this backwater for some time, but it costs a lot of money to get out – plane fares are through the roof, and there's no train, and there's no neighboring village. In short, you're stuck there until you can buy a ticket – and pay for a passport, of course.

Mario spends his days looking for work, wooing tavern worker Linda, and despairing about the lack of work. There's an American oil company in town, but they're no longer hiring. His monotonous lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of fellow expat Jo (Charles Vanel), a tough-looking older man who quickly wins Mario's favor at the expense of the rest of the men in town.

The oil company, in fact, has its own problem – one of their large derricks has exploded, causing a huge oil fire. Company man Bill O'Brien decides to send two trucks loaded with nitro from the town up the mountain to the derrick. (The eventual idea is to set off charges, which will somehow contain or extinguish the fire.) O'Brien has no trouble scaring up volunteers for the task, since the men of the town are largely unemployed. Four men will be selected to take the two trucks. Only one truck is needed; the second is truly just in case there's an accident with the first one. The men will receive $2000 when the work is finished, more than enough to secure passage out of the backwater.

Mario and Jo are chosen, as are Mario's roommate Luigi (Folco Lulli) and German expat Bimba (Peter van Eyck). The two trucks depart early in the morning, full of gas and of nitro. Danger awaits.

Theirs is not an easy task. The road is full of ruts. In one place, the wooden deck that trucks use to make a sharp turn up the mountain has been damaged from disuse. It's hot and muggy. And one has to be very, very careful, as even the smallest bump might set the whole shebang off. There's also tension among the four drivers – Luigi is unhappy that Mario is spending more time with Jo than with him, Mario is unhappy with what he perceives as Jo's cowardice. Bimba seems to get along with everyone, though.

The whole time I was watching this movie, I was certain not all four were going to make it. I will not spoil what is now a sixty-three-year-old movie, but I was still genuinely surprised by the ending. This ain't no fairy tale or sitcom. This is a movie about desperation, redemption, sacrifice, and comeuppance. It's not necessarily about justice.

The Wages of Fear is a singularly terrific movie from start to finish, exquisitely shot and expertly written. Its money maker is its tension, something present here in spades. The writing is impeccable; even personality changes make perfect sense within the film's context. There are intricacies within a straightforward plot. This is a must see for lovers of thrillers.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 157 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed