A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to rekindle his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
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 <email@example.com>
Note how Yves Montand's character Mario still smokes his ever-permanent cigarette even around nitro. See more »
When Jo first arrives in town, his cab stops in and next to muddy puddles, but in the next shot while he gets out, his feet land on dry ground. See more »
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.
You mean you're gonna put those bums to work?
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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The film was cut for U.S. distribution in 1954, in part due to scenes that denounced crooked U.S. business interests in Latin America. The Criterion Collection laserdisc restored the film to its uncut version with 21 minutes of footage removed from other versions of the film. See more »
An unforgettable bit of existentialism on exposed celluloid
Whoever it may be to rightly claim that he invented the action thriller genre (Méliès, I suppose), Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Le salaire de la peur" is an indispensable milestone on the exciting route to the best films of that kind in the 70's, 80's and nowadays. In its tenseness, as symbolized by the danger of explosion of the lorries' loads, it has hardly been surpassed.
The plot is perfectly worked out from start to end, the leading players act in some of their best parts ever, the (almost) absence of music supports the brutal realism and the consequent choice of authentic outdoor settings contributed a lot to the film's deserved success. Historically, it ranges between neorealismo and nouvelle vague, and yet it is its pure action and suspense that make it worth watching for younger audiences who wouldn't go in for just the artistic way. - Only flaw I can see is the curious, rather artificial change in Vanel's character which has no comprehensible motivation, at least for me whenever I see it.
Apart from that, Clouzot's wife Véra (also well-known from his "Les diaboliques") plays to the "most breathtaking angles" gallery when she bows down to scrub the floor of Dario Moreno's gin joint. It's a man's world after all and there are male perspectives on human survival only. Well, it's existentialism, mates. Altogether, the black and white photography is gripping. The gun scene between Lulli and Vanel is one of the best montages in film history, and there is more excellent editing in "Salaire" (including the finale) that completely fits the hot atmosphere.
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