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2,758 Ratings

The Wages of Fear

Le salaire de la peur

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
France, Italy, 1953
Drama, Thriller


In a squalid South American town, four men are paid to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin into the jungle through to the oil field. Friendships are tested and rivalries develop as they embark upon the perilous journey.

Our take

The Wages of Fear may just be France’s greatest contribution to cinema’s thrillers: it’s an intense, pulse-pounding affair in which the characters’ very limits are tested as they navigate harsh South American terrain with trucks loaded with nitroglycerin—a recipe for disaster & cinematic gold!

The Wages of Fear Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1953 | Winner: Grand Prize of the Festival

1953 | Special Mention

2017 | Cannes Classics

Berlin International Film Festival

1953 | 2 wins including: Golden Bear

BAFTA Awards

1955 | Winner: Best Film from any Source

Critics reviews

The history of film theory abounds with chapters on the impact of fundamental film syntax. . . . Not often part of this conversation is the French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, even though his 1953 film, The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la peur), is a model of elemental, technical tension, containing a sustained sequence lasting roughly 90 minutes (part of its 147-minute total runtime) in which the basics of cinematic grammar are implemented and manipulated to astonishing ends.
January 23, 2018
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Like THERE WILL BE BLOOD, the film captures the obsession and mania that seem like an inevitable byproduct in the quest for oil. Though THE WAGES OF FEAR isn’t an explicitly political film, it is decidedly anti-American, offering a critique of corporate imperialism, indigenous exploitation, and a division of labor in which (for the underclass) work and death are essentially one and the same.
October 26, 2012
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In its original form, Clouzot’s grim thriller had been basically stripped down to its action components, which are among the most gripping to be found anywhere in movies. As it happens, I liked the movie when I saw it in its reduced (and censored) form as a teenager, despite its changed ending, but I like it even more now in its complete (?) form. Its somewhat dated macho elements notwithstanding, the film’s pile-driving persistence over two and a half hours commands a certain numbed respect.
March 06, 1992
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