Wages of Fear (1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot)

Thrilling movie, loved it. Also the gayest movie I’ve seen all year… and I’m not just saying that ’cause of the neckerchief. Very manly sweaty back-slapping kinda movie, and a weird subplot where our neckerchiefed hero loudly neglects his “girlfriend”. Movie also features lead characters named Mario and Luigi. That’s not adding to the gaiety, I’m just saying. Odd to see actors speaking Italian with synchronized sound.

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Everyone’s stuck in this poor town and hangs out at the bar but nobody ever pays their tab. One day, an apparently rich fat man shows up and Neckerchief befriends him, then tries to start a little two-man gang to intimidate the others, when he’s not mistreating his girlfriend and his roommate. Fortunately, an oil refinery some miles away has an uncontrollable fire and they need a buncha nitro to block off the flames (fight fire with fire?). Nitro is loaded into two trucks and drivers are hired. Neckerchief gets in and helps the fat man cheat his way in… then roomie Luigi and some other guy drive the other truck. That part out of the way, the rest of the movie is a thrilling, bumpy ride.

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After dude’s friends die and he gets the explosives truck to the burning oil fields, he gets WAY too happy and drives himself off a cliff. Is he happy cuz he’s now rich enough to leave town? To afford more whisky? To marry his “girlfriend” who’s waiting for him? I don’t know! I was talking to someone recently who hated this… was it Trevor & Robert? Anyhow, they’re so wrong. This kicks some ass, even if I can’t always figure out the lead characters’ behavior (hey, they’re Italian). First film ever to win both the Golden Palm (Cannes) and Golden Bear (Berlin), and has been remade twice so far.

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