Andrea James

Wages of Fear

Last night I watched the 1953 Clouzot film Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur) as part of my ongoing project to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of canonical films. The first half is pretty slow going, but it gives a sense of the desperation that would lead the men in this desolate company outpost to risk their lives transporting explosives to an oil well fire. The second half is simply brilliant. There are several set pieces where they have to maneuver the trucks past obstacles, and they are so suspensefully crafted that you cringe the whole time. You feel as if YOU will explode with them if they make an error. It also has a lot to say about American imperialism and our thirst for oil that still holds true 50 years later. Worth a look if you like old films with a healthy heap o’ nihilism.

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