Festival de Cannes 70: Le salaire de la peur, 1953

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

The effective way the opening scenes of Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) are shot may well be a great addition to any ‘How To’ educational film book. How To set the scene. How To get the audience attention right away. How To convey piercing heat on film. How To shoot film, period. I guess I am not the only one, too, to make the comparison between the strips of film-noir-like sunlight seeping through onto the shade, and the stripes on Linda’s revealing top. How To read too much into film? I don’t think so. Regardless, this a cracking motion picture by Henri-Georges Clouzot, headed by the not-many-cooler-than Yves Montand as Mario. He is part of an exclusive, but desperate, band of men marooned in a scorching Mexican town tasked with a bumpy journey to aid an American oil company. “Where there’s oil, there’s America”, quips Mario at one point. These misfits, once they do set off on the hazardous roads, are literally living life on the edge. But they need the money. And as far as nervous teeth-gritting is concerned, there is no expense spared. The ‘oh fuck’ ending (cutting back to the original, hot location of safety only to tease us) is one of the biggest sucker punch climaxes in cinematic history. I watched this again just a couple of days ago, and was almost convinced the ending might go a different way – of course, it did not.



4 thoughts on “Festival de Cannes 70: Le salaire de la peur, 1953

  1. Guess I should have finished that Masterpiece Memo on Wages of Fear. It slides around on my all-time top ten. The oil company actually tried to interfere with distribution because of the poor light in which they were portrayed.

    Liked by 1 person

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