Wages of Fear (1953)

Review of the movie Wages of Fear

Last year I saw Les diaboliques, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It was a very good mystery/thriller, but I never bothered to check out more of Clouzot’s work, until someone suggested I’d watch Wages of Fear. After having done so I have to make sure to check out more of his work, because this movie is stunning, thrilling and will probably have you biting your nails. It proves that a movie doesn’t need fast paced action to be thrilling to watch.

Set in a poor South American town, close to the base of an American oil company people are struggling to make ends meet. Everyone is waiting for work and if there is none that can lead to boredom and rivalries. When an remote oil field blows up, the resulting fire needs to be put out. Unfortunately the company doesn’t have any specialised vehicles available to transport nitroglycerin to the location. They only have two trucks available, but no one is willing to drive them as the slightest bump can make the chemical explode. The company decides to make use of the people who are desperate for work and offers a big sum of money for those willing to go on this “suicide mission”. A lot of people apply and it doesn’t take long before the trucks set off to their destination.

Since only the drivers of the truck who arrives first get paid there is a rivalry between the drivers. As the road itself is treacherous as well it is a voyage which will take test them to the limit, in order for them to reach their goal.

This movie really reminded me to start watching older movies again. Wages of Fear takes its time to set the scene, time in which you get to know the characters and the situation they are in. Because of that it makes you care a lot about what is going on. You want the characters to succeed with their mission, you feel for them when thety run into drama and Wages of Fear has lots of it. It’s an emotional ride (literally) and to me it’s a movie I can’t recommend enough, with an ending that you’ll never forget.

8 thoughts on “Wages of Fear (1953)

  1. i agree with everything. but I don’t think that only the first truck gets paid. they were going one after another, if one explodes, the other one won’t. i don’t think it was a “race”.

    • You might be right, although I thought that was the reason there was that competition between them. Will have to rewatch it in the future to find out (which I don’t mind at all) 😉

  2. Hi, Nostra and company:

    Excellent choice and critique of an awesome, sweaty, “Man Against Nature” or “Fate” film!

    Granted, it took awhile for the story to wrap around me. But once the trucks of Nitroglycerine rolled out. All bets are off as the odyssey began.

    It’s a shame that William Friedkin’s ‘Sorcerer’ came awfully close to ‘Wages of Fear”s suspenseful greatness. Yet faded into anonymity.

    • I liked the buildup to the trucks, you got a sense of the people and there struggles and understood why they would do something so crazy. Have not heard of Sorcerer, but I’ll note it down as one to check out.

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