Raymond Bourderie

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The Wages Of Fear Review


Essential
"The best thriller ever made" is perhaps too much praise for the movie, while "best examination of the human condition" is too faint to be heard. Nevertheless, one can safely say that Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear is to film of the nail-biter variety what Raymond Chandler is to detective fiction: pretty damn essential. For pure thriller mechanics, it's a textbook in step-by-step screw-tightening, while those looking for something of more substance will find themselves swimming in the stuff.

The South American village of Las Piedras is located just past the edge of nowhere, baking in the sun and providing just the correctly seedy backdrop for a number of Europeans to wallow in their own misery, abusing the locals, and lazing about the saloon, to the pained chagrin of its hapless owner. There's no work, the road doesn't go anywhere, and a plane ticket out it too expensive. It's the kind of place where dead-enders show up after getting kicked out of the Last Chance Saloon, a hole to crawl in to die. The most dashing of the dead-enders is Frenchman Mario (Yves Montand), a dashing and immoral louse who sponges off his hardworking roommate, acts abusively towards his erstwhile girlfriend, the barmaid Linda (played with va-va-voom naïveté by the director's wife Vera Clouzot) and looks cooler than Humphrey Bogart through all of it.

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The Wages of Fear Movie Review

The Wages of Fear Movie Review

"The best thriller ever made" is perhaps too much praise for the movie, while "best...

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