The Wages of Fear

The Wages of Fear is a 1953 thriller film directed and co-written by Henri-Georges Clouzot, and starring Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck and Véra Clouzot. The film centers on a group of four down-their-luck European men who are hired by an American oil company to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, loaded with nitroglycerine needed to extinguish an oil well fire. It is adapted from a 1950 French novel by Georges Arnaud.


Frenchmen Mario and Jo, German Bimba and Italian Luigi are stuck in the isolated town of Las Piedras. Surrounded by desert, the town is linked to the outside world only by an airstrip, but the airfare is beyond the means of the men. There is little opportunity for employment aside from the American corporation that dominates the town, Southern Oil Company (SOC), which operates the nearby oil fields and owns a walled compound within the town. SOC exploits local workers and takes the law into its own hands, but the townspeople depend on it and suffer in silence.