(aka 'Il Salario della paura" or "The Wages of Fear" or "Vite vendute')

directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
France / Italy 1953

One of the most nerve-wracking and exciting films ever made, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterpiece won the Grand Prize at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. An American oil company enlists four tough drifters for a high-paying suicide mission—transporting explosives across the rough terrain of Central America.

***

In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their explosive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves. The result is one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloid, a white-knuckle ride from France’s legendary master of suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot.

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 22nd, 1953 

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 36 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Restored Edition) - Spine # 36 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Edition) - Spine # 36 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 2:27:30 2:27:50 2:28:09.422
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.76 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.4 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 33,451,769,856 bytes

Disc Size:  48,675,372,981 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Average Bitrate: 30.10 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Initial Release

Bitrate:

Restored Edition

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0)  French (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio French 768 kbps 1.0
/ 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 4-page liner notes with essay by Danny Peary

DVD Release Date: February 2nd, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 25

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with assistant director Michel Romanoff
• Interview with Henri-Georges Clouzot biographer Marc Godin
Archival interview with Yves Montand on working with Clouzot
Featurette - 'Henri-Georges Clouzot- the Enlightened Tyrant' (52:28)
• Censored Scenes (shows scenes that were censored out of this release in the alternate version)

• 24-page liner notes booklet with essay by novelist Dennis Lehane

DVD Release Date:
October 25th, 2005
Double thick Keep Case
Chapters: 24
 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 33,451,769,856 bytes

Disc Size:  48,675,372,981 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Average Bitrate: 30.10 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Interview with assistant director Michel Romanoff (22:26 in HD)
• Interview with Henri-Georges Clouzot biographer Marc Godin (10:09 in HD)
Archival interview with Yves Montand on working with Clouzot
Featurette - 'Henri-Georges Clouzot- the Enlightened Tyrant' (52:34 in HD)
• Censored Scenes (shows scenes that were censored out of this release in the alternate version) - 12:12 in HD!

• 16-page liner notes booklet with essay by novelist Dennis Lehane

Blu-ray Release Date: April 21st, 2009
Thick transparent 
Blu-ray-sized case
Chapters: 24
 

 

Comments:
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - April 09': I don't have too much to say here. The 1080P image is expectantly bigger and better - contrast is another full notch higher. The Blu-ray may be marginally brighter - it shows the grain structure more cohesively. Not surprisingly the 'restored' DVD looks a little green beside the Blu-ray that has over 4X the bitrate. Detail has some noticeable improvement but I'd say contrast is the single most advanced attribute. Once again, everything - in regards to visible superiority, stems from the ability of your system to identify it. Wages of Fear in high-definition looks magnificent to me in motion - despite the light scratches that are retained - the higher resolution captures more of the essence of the film - as does the linear PCM 1.0 channel track.

Extras all appear to be included (loved seeing the censorship information again) - but they are now in HD! The liner notes booklet is shorter at 16-pages but still has Dennis Lehane's inspired essay. Somewhat amusingly this is almost a full $10 cheaper than the restored DVD from 2005, but offer a significantly better presentation. Criterion don't scrimp either - the digital package takes up over 48 Gig of the 50 Gig capacity. Another essential brilliant package from the best film-to-digital production company in the world.

One note: I like the new case - it's like a smaller transparent keep case but with standard Blu-ray case height and length dimensions - but is a bit thicker.    

Gary W. Tooze

****

ADDITION: Criterion - DVD Restored Edition - October 2005 - it is advertised that - "This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from the 35mm fine-grain master. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System. To maintain optimal image quality through the compression process, the picture on this dual-layer DVD-9 was encoded at the highest-­possible bit rate for the quantity of material included."

As you can see the image is definitely improved. Although some may consider the upgrade unremarkable I believe that Criterion were somewhat limited by what they could do with the condition of the master. They have done their magic with removing debris, cleaning scratches and boosting some brightness levels, de-contrasting others to give a much smoother and more consistent appearance. Subtitles are improved and there is some minor cropping on both sides. We still have the 148 minute version and a host of extras that Clouzot fans will relish. They are not giving this away at $35+ but for fans of the film the upgrade is quite worthwhile.

*******

ON THE ORIGINAL DVD: Early days for Criterion - but it is progressive transfer despite some of its flaws. It has some dullness and I see some brightness boosting. The film itself is excellent and certainly one for the testosterone-infused crowd, but the DVD image is a far cry from excellence. The huge plus of this release is that Criterion have returned the films presentation to its proper running time of 148 minutes. I thought the mono audio was quite power-packed. There are no digital extras and a 4 page liner notes inclusion. Overall, nothing like one would expect from a more modern Criterion release, but its great to have this film, in its full-length running time, in the collection.   out of

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

(Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

 

Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - Disc 2

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - can't obtain Blu-ray subtitles yet!

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2)  Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion (Restored Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
by Ginette Vincendeau
 
Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson Robert Bresson (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 2)
by James Quandt
The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno

 

 

Check out more in "The Library"


 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 36 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Restored Edition) - Spine # 36 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection (Blu-ray Edition) - Spine # 36 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.


 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!