Sunday, January 29, 2006

You can never leave

I finally saw the Wages of Fear last night. I had seen the William Friedken remake, Sorceror, and thought it entertaining. Wages of Fear, a 1950s French thriller, is outstanding. Dennis Lehane in his Criterion Collection introduction, writes that this movie was a big influence on him. That should be enough to get a lot of you to watch it.

The movie concerns a small town somewhere in Latin America, where an oil company is one of the only employers. There are a number of Europeans and Americans hanging out, more or less trapped since they can't get money to leave. When a chance comes to escape they take it, despite needing to drive trucks of nitroglycerin 300 miles up a treacherous mountain road. The characters are great. I particularly liked the relationship between the two male leads. Mario keeps trying to impress Jo, who is a debonair man of the world. Once on the road, Mario despises Jo for his physical weakness. The interplay is great.

There is a political subtext as well. For the original US release elements of the film that criticized an American oil company were snipped out. The Criterion Collection DVD has it all, so get that if you can.

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