THE WAGES OF FEAR (LE SALAIRE DE LA PEUR) (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953)
209 West Houston St.
In a very poor South American village, four men are needed to transport two truckloads of nitroglycerin to the scene of an industrial accident. The men jump at the chance to risk their lives for a small amount of cash because they have nothing else in their pitiful lives. Yves Montand stars in this endlessly tense, harrowing film that won the Golden Bear in Berlin, the BAFTA in England, and the Grand Prize at Cannes. The cast also includes Charles Vanet, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli, and Véra Clouzot, the wife of director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Les Diaboliques, Les Espions). Based on the novel by Georges Arnaud, The Wages of Fear was remade as Sorcerer by William Friedkin in 1977, starring Roy Scheider — a good film, but not nearly the cinematic experience the original still is. Clouzot’s back-and-white classic, a masterpiece of suspense that will literally have you on the edge of your seat, ready to explode at any moment, is being shown December 9-22 at Film Forum in a new 35mm that should make it even more terrifying. For more Clouzot, see MoMA’s retrospective, which begins with The Wages of Fear on December 8 and runs through December 24 with screenings of such films as Le Corbeau (The Raven), Retour à la vie (Return to Life), La Vérité, and Le mystère Picasso (The Mystery of Picasso).