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 (from the novel by), Henri-Georges Clouzot (adaptation) (as H.G. Clouzot) | 1 more credit »
Top Rated Movies #219 | Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Yves Montand ... Mario Livi
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 ... Pepito Hernandez (as Dario Moreno)
Jo Dest Jo Dest ... Hans 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)
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Storyline

In the Central 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:

A modern tragedy. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Note how Yves Montand's character Mario still smokes his ever-permanent cigarette even around nitro. See more »

Goofs

Mario jumps out of the cab and runs back toward where the platform had just collapsed. Jo is hiding in the hills. With nobody in the cab, the engine stops as if someone had turned it off. See more »

Quotes

Dick: When I was a kid, I used to see men go off on this kind of jobs... and not come back. When they did, they were wrecks. Their hair had turned white and their hands were shaking like palsy! You don't know what fear is. But you'll see. It's catching, it's catching like small pox! And once you get it, it's for life! So long, boys, and good luck.
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Alternate Versions

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

Connections

Referenced in Falling Skies: Eight Hours (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

The Blue Danube
Composed by Johann Strauss
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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.


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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 »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,098
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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