The Wages of Fear
How much is one man’s life worth? For the lost souls ticking away their miserable existences in the South American armpit town of Las Piedras, $2,000 oughta do it. To earn that sum, four destitute losers — led by the swaggering Yves Montand — agree to drive two suspension-less trucks, loaded down with unstable nitroglycerine, through the jungle to a raging oil fire 300 miles away. Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear, a gem of a thriller, which won Cannes’ Grand Prix way back when, lags a bit in the early going (thanks to 21 minutes of character embroidery, which was cut from its first U.S. release), but once those guys hit the road, it’s a masterpiece of tension, precision, and a very specific form of masculine desperation. EXTRAS The standard stellar clutch of Criterion supplements, which are illuminating if a little academic: two brief Clouzot documentaries (one is a sit-down with his Wages of Fear assistant director, the other an interview with his biographer); a 1988 TV interview with Montand, still full of joie de vivre in his 60s; and an examination of that deleted footage and why it was cut in the first place (one word: censorship).