Sunday, February 14, 2010
Sorcerer/Wages of Fear
This is a special day. Everyone gets two great movies for the price of one! Wages of Fear and Sorcerer. They are both the story of 4 men, on the run from their past, trying to escape their current desperation. They each decide to take a high-paying, life-threatening job driving nitroglycerin across an unnamed South American country. An oil company is paying huge bonuses to anyone who can get the nitro through to put out an oil well fire. Of course, nitroglycerin is very dangerous and will explode when bumped, jostled or warmed. Who will survive the trip and what perils will they face along the way?
Both of these movies are intense! The pressure builds as our drivers face numerous obstacles on the road to fortune and personal salvation. Jungles, mountains, rivers, guerrillas, each other and their own demons must be vanquished if they are to survive.
Wages of Fear was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Filmed in 3 languages so the best prints are subtitled. Stay away from the dubbed version. Clouzot's film is raw, gritty and superb. Yves Montand is fabulous as Mario. We don't know how he got into his personal hell, but he wants out. Clouzot allows the suspense to build until you almost want to scream. At one point I even covered my eyes and looked between my fingers. It's safer that way.
Sorcerer is William Friedkin's remake. He was fresh off 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist' so the studios gave him anything he wanted. It shows. Roy Scheider does a nice job reprising the Yves Montand role. Friedkin goes a little overboard in the first half, but the remainder of the film is just as intense as Wages of Fear. The shot of the trucks driving over rope bridges in a pouring rain is worth the price of admission. The Tangerine Dream soundtrack is quite wild.
Intensity builds to a big finish in both films. Similar in their story, each is a unique experience. Wages of Fear is more respected by critics, but both films deserve a viewing.
Wages of Fear was filmed in 1952, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, written by Clouzot and Jerome Geronimi, starring Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Folco Lulli and Peter Van Eyck. It is about half sub-titled and half in English.
Sorcerer was filmed in 1977, directed by William Friedkin, written by Walon Green, starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal and Amidou. Both are based on the novel by Georges Arnaud.
Notes: Before Wages of Fear could be released in the U.S. government censors order some key scenes removed. They felt it was "anti-American". Wages of Fear was the first film to win the Golden Palm at Cannes and the Golden Bear in Berlin. In Sorcerer, the part of Donnelly the head of the gang that robs the church is played by Gerard Murphy. Murphy was an ex-convict who had committed a similar robbery just block from where the scene was shot. The magnificent sequence of the trucks on the bridge cost millions of dollars and took three months to complete.