The Wages of Fear (1953)

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The Wages of Fear is a 1953 French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand, and based on the 1950 French novel Le Salaire de la Peur (lit. "The Salary of Fear") by Georges Arnaud. When a Mexican oil well owned by an American company catches fire, the company hires four European men, down on their luck, to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, loaded with nitroglycerine needed to extinguish the flames. The film brought Clouzot international fame, and allowed him to direct Les Diaboliques. In France the film was the 4th highest grossing film of the year with a total of 6,944,306 admissions.

In 1982, Pauline Kael called it "an existential thriller - the most original and shocking French melodrama of the 50s. ... When you can be blown up at any moment only a fool believes that character determines fate. ... If this isn't a parable of man's position in the modern world, it's at least an illustration of it. ... The violence ... is used to force a vision of human existence." In 1992, Roger Ebert stated that "The film's extended suspense sequences deserve a place among the great stretches of cinema." In 2010, the film was ranked #9 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema."

(Summary from Wikipedia)