The Wages of Fear [2 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1953]

Henri-Georges Clouzot's groundbreaking thriller, in which four men with little to lose sign on to drive trucks loaded with delicate explosives through a mountain range riddled with potholes and dangerous turns, gets an upgraded DVD presentation in this release from The Criterion Collection. Le Salaire de la Peur (aka The Wages of Fear) has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the black-and-white images are rich and beautifully detailed throughout, looking as good as they did the day this picture was released in 1953. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and sounds nearly as good as the film looks; the dialogue is mostly in French and English, with optional and easy-to-read English subtitles included. The set's second disc features Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Enlightened Tyrant, a documentary produced for French television which looks at the life and career of the man who made this classic, including a number of exclusive interviews with his actors and collaborators. Also included are new interviews with Michel Romanoff, Clouzot's assistant director on the project, and Marc Godin, author of a biography of the filmmaker, while an excerpt from a 1988 television interview with Yves Montand features the French star talking about how working with Clouzot impacted his career. Finally, a bonus short looks at how the film was cut for its American premiere in 1955 (the original uncut European print appears on this DVD release), and a 24-page booklet includes an essay on The Wages of Fear from author Dennis Lehane as well as thoughts on Clouzot and the film from a number of people who worked with him. Criterion's upgraded edition of The Wages of Fear manages to improve on their excellent original release of the movie (long out of print), and is likely to remain the definitive home-video presentation of this landmark in French cinema.
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Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • New video interviews with assistant director Michel Romanoff and Henri-Georges Clouzot biographer Marc Godin
  • Interview with Yves Montand from 1988
  • "Henri-Georges Clouzot: The Enlightened Tyrant," a 2004 documentary on the director's career
  • "Censored," an analysis of cuts made to the film for the 1955 U.S. release
  • 24-page booklet featuring novelist Dennis Lehane and a compilation of interviews with the cast and crew of the film

Synopsis

The Wages of Fear
Together with Diabolique, The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la Peur) earned Henri-Georges Clouzot the reputation as a "French Hitchcock." In truth, Clouzot's ability to sustain suspense may have even exceeded Hitchcock's; when originally released, Wages ran 155 tension-filled minutes. Based on the much-imitated novel by Georges Arnaud, the film is set in Central America. The Southern Oil Company, which pretty much rules the roost in the impoverished village of Las Piedras, sends out a call for long-distance truck drivers. Southern Oil's wages of 2,000 dollars per man are, literally, to die for -- the drivers are obliged to transport highly volatile nitroglycerine shipments across some of the most treacherous terrain on earth. Through expository dialogue, tense interactions and flashbacks, we become intimately acquainted with the four drivers who sign up for this death-defying mission: Corsican Yves Montand, Italian Folco Lulli, German Peter Van Eyck, and Frenchman Charles Vanel. The first half of the film slowly, methodically introduces the characters and their motivations. The second half -- the drive itself -- is a relentless, goosebump-inducing assault on the audience's senses. The winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival, The Wages of Fear was remade by William Friedkin as Sorcerer (1977). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Yves Montand
    Yves Montand - Mario
  • Charles Vanel
    Charles Vanel - Jo
  • Peter Van Eyck
    Peter Van Eyck - Bimba
  • Image coming soon
    William Tubbs - Bill O'Brien
  • Image coming soon
    Dario Moreno - Hernandez

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