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Drama, Thriller, Adventure
IMDB rating:
William Friedkin
Peter Capell as Lartigue
Anne-Marie Deschodt as Blanche (as Anne Marie Descott)
Karl John as 'Marquez'
Chico Martínez as Bobby Del Rios (as Chico Martinez)
Richard Holley as Billy White
Rosario Almontes as Agrippa
Jacques François as Lefevre (as Jacques Francois)
Friedrich von Ledebur as 'Carlos' (as Fredrick Ledebur)
Joe Spinell as Spider
Jean-Luc Bideau as Pascal
Ramon Bieri as Corlette
Amidou as Kassem - 'Martinez'
Roy Scheider as Jackie Scanlon - 'Juan Dominguez'
Storyline: A gangster, a crooked banker, a hitman and an arab terrorist are stranded and on the run in a small village in South America. Their only chance of escape is to drive two trucks filled with unstable nitroglycerin up a long and rocky mountain road in order to plug an escalating oil refinery blaze. With their deadly cargo likely to explode at the slightest bump, the four men must put aside their differences and work together to survive.
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Excellent Friedkin Thriller
Excellent William Friedkin thriller that pits four desperate men, exiled to South America, versus trucks carrying leaky nitroglycerin.

This was a film that was unfortunately forgotten by filmgoers, as is was haplessly released soon after "Star Wars" in 1977. But, the new High Definition transfer is spectacular and reveals a film that must be seen by fans of thrillers and suspense films.

The movie is a remake of the French classic "The Wages of Fear." And, even if you know that film well, you will find plenty of suspense and surprises here.

A first-rate cast is led by Roy Scheider, giving the most primal and immediate performance of his career. The cinematography and editing are pitch perfect. And, the score by Tangerine Dream perfectly underscores the film, especially in the final scene.

William Friedkin has been very proud to bring this film back. And, I am glad that he did! Excellent filmmaking on all accounts.

********* (9 Out of 10 Stars)
The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Being a big fan of Henri-George Cluzot's extraordinary Film Noir The Wages of Fear,a friend gave me the US remake on my birthday. Whilst keen the see the remake,I found myself just going back to the original when I would get a chance to. Taking part in an ICM film exchange project,I was happily caught by surprise,when the title was chosen for viewing,which led to me finally casting a spell.

The plot:

Caught partaking in various crimes, Nilo, Kassem, Victor, and Jackie each live/hide in a town that has been destroyed by poverty.Wanting to get their hands on any serious cash,they each accept an offer from a company to each take stacks of dynamite to the other side of town in order to close an oil well. Setting off,the drivers soon begin to fear that a fuse has been lit on their lives.

View on the film:

Backed by Paramount and Universal,the DVD transfer from Universal is shockingly poor,with the print looking like it has been used as a brush,and the original mono soundtrack having a slightly muted quality.

Driving deep into the jungle,director William Friedkin & cinematographers Dick Bush and John M. Stephens shred the Film Noir anxiety of the original,to light an Action flick fuse. Building the bridge for real, (with added,hidden safety features!) Friedkin drips the tension of the drivers across the screen with elegant wide shots swaying to the surrounding jungle and picking up every wrong turn that takes place. Turning the wheels with a rapid-fire opening giving each of the drivers an intro,Friedkin blends ultra-stylised overlapping close-ups with Tangerine Dream's great, spidery score to give the jungle a peculiar,other worldly atmosphere.

Going down a different road to the original,the screenplay by Walon Green delves into the background of the drivers with a frantic crime edge opening,that reveals the deal that has led to the drivers deciding to put their hands on dynamite. After setting everyone up,Green is disappointingly unable to bridge the action with the personal,as a lack of building any type of bond between Nilo and Jackie Scanlon (played by a very good,tough Roy Scheider and a playful Francisco Rabal) leading the action to look enticing,but lacking a much needed psychological depth to make this sorcerer cast a magical spell.
Lost Classic
Sorcerer is a unique, brutal, brilliant film burdened underneath a terrible, wholly unappropriate title. Watching this film, it is not only easy to see why the film was both a huge financial and commercial disaster, it is downright obvious. This is the most un-american/ hollywood/ commercial film backed by a major studio I have ever seen. It is a tough, gruelling 126 minutes that goes nowhere fast, yet holds you firm in its tight grip and beats you senseless throughout. I was exhausted when the film finally arrived at it's rather downbeat ending. The multi-national cast is faultless. Scheider is magnificent. This is an exceptionally demanding, difficult role and he hits it head on, creating an anti-hero who is very, very real: desperate, frightened and desructable. Taking this role, at the height of his fame, was either very brave or very stupid. I'm going with brave. His performance here is a million miles away from his work on Jaws and Jaws 2, yet equally compelling. The photography is in a league of it's own (I only wish the DVD came with an original 2:35:1 print, assuming there is one, as the current disc is presented in a 4:3 full frame), and the music from Tangerine Dream complements the vision perfectly. This is a brilliant piece of film making from the most daring decade of cinema, made by one of cinema's true unpredictable's. Tense, dazzling, dark and fresh, this is an underated film that deserves to be re-evaluated.
An intelligent action movie.
Not many remakes come close to matching the quality of the original, especially a revered classic like "The Wages of Fear." But William Friedkin, hot off the success of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist," did a remarkable job, not necessarily surpassing the original, but adding a gritty realism that energizes the story. It's hard to think of another film, even thirty years later, that strips away all sense of glamour in order to tell such a compelling, earthy tale. It's a harrowing journey. The opening introductions to the four main characters are admittedly confusing, but their purpose is well served once the action gets under way. The film's title remains a matter of contention; It's misleading and doesn't fit, even after you become aware of its vague connection. Friedkin comes through with a final twist that feels more convincing than Clouzot's ending. Highly recommended as an intelligent action film.
Don't watch this rubbish, watch the original instead.
Hollywood remakes of European classics usually disappoint. But I thought if this was 50% as good as "The Wages of Fear" it would be worth watching. Even if it was only 10% as good.

Sorcerer is abysmal. "The Wages…" mixed human suffering, posturing and pathos with friendship, warmth and rich humanity. Sorcerer is only suffering with horrible characters that you can't relate to. You won't give a damn about a single one of them. The action and suspense isn't even as good. Surely that was one area that could have excelled. (With the exception of a particular scene which wasn't even shown in Wages, only the aftermath.)
One of the most underrated films ever made
William Friedkin once said that when he dies his tombstone will read "The Director of 'The Exorcist'". While "The Exorcist" is a brilliant film, I believe his best film is "Sorcerer" released in 1977. It is a remake of the French film "The Wages of Fear" and tells the story of four fugitives from different parts of the world who end up together in a seedy Latin American town. When there is an explosion at an oil refinery the fugitives agree to take the job of transporting two trucks carrying nitro glycerine to put out the fire. This film is filled with incredible tension. The most famous actor in the film is Roy Scheider of "Jaws" fame but all of the actors are very good. The film features a great score by Tangerine Dream (with other music by Keith Jarrett), brilliant direction by Friedkin as he sets the story up gradually, and great work by the sound men and the cinematographer. It is a shame that this film is more famous for how it bombed at the boxoffice than for its aesthetic qualities. It is one of the best films of the 1970's and one of the most underrated films ever made.
One Truck Drivers Opinion
A quartet of down and outers jump on an opportunity to improve their situation.

This is an outstanding movie. I was gripping the arm of my chair when Roy Scheider was driving that truck over the rope bridge. The 70's synth music was a tad bit funky. The exhaustion breakdown scene was a tad bit funky. But William Freidkin did a good job on this one .Well Done!!

Roy Scheider,Bruno Cremer,Francisco Rabel, and Amidou drove the two GMC big trucks.

Roy Scheider,Bruno Cremer, and Francisco Rabel were permanent A list actors.

Amidou is a permanent A list actor.

Ann Marie Deschodt is hot!!

Gritty, Haunting, Harrowing story of 4 men hiding out in a dank, depressing part of South America. 4 men, from different parts of the world, all running and hiding from something in their lives. These 4 men are hired to transport nitro-glycerin 200 miles through the rugged jungle and forest, to help blow out an oil fire.

The hopeless, desperate circumstances of these men's lives simply oozes off the screen. The filthy, rancid conditions they now live in are laid out to see and feel.

The tension and desperation as these men make their way through the jungle with their deadly cargo holds you in place throughout the movie.

This is a thriller of the highest order. Vastly underrated movie, and Roy Scheider is just superb.
"It's not the good Lord who rules, it's the devil"
Mrs Pimpin returns after a stint at home.

Mrs.Pimpin: Pimpin, what did you do when I was at my home?

Pimpin: I watched this movie called Sorcerer.

Mrs.Pimpin: Are you sure you did not get drunk? I checked the Smirnoff bottle in the cupboard. It was half full when I left. Now its almost gone.

Pimpin: Ulp! What? No way. I didn't touch the bottle at all. It was at the same level when you left.

Mrs.Pimpin: Then why do the pillows smell faintly of vomit? Are you OK?

Pimpin: You are hallucinating, baby. Sometimes pillow covers smell that way when they have been in the cupboard for a long time. I swear I was watching this movie called Sorcerer.

Mrs. Pimpin: How was it?

Pimpin: It was awesome. Its by the guy who made The Exorcist.

Mrs. Pimpin: Oh yes, I remember we watched Exorcist together. Demon Pazuzu was scary. You scared the hell out of me once when you imitated Pazuzu after you got drunk. Anyway, is this a horror movie?

Pimpin: Not at all. But Pazuzu does make a few appearances in the form of a carving. His presence can be felt in the film at various points. The film takes place in this multicultural melting pot in some Latin American country.

Mrs. Pimpin: Oh! Is it like Babel?

Pimpin: Well, it did remind me of Babel. The exploitation and helplessness of the wretched of this earth is one of the themes of this film. But it is rendered without any of Innaritu's irritating humanitarianism. Friedkin does not portray the poor and the wretched in very good light. Its about a bunch of people from different backgrounds volunteering for a dangerous mission.

Mrs.Pimpin: Oh OK. So it is a men on a mission movie?

Pimpin: Yes, sort of. But it is more like Apocalypse Now than say The Dirty Dozen. In fact, it released a couple of years before Apocalypse Now. I wonder if Coppola was inspired by this film. It has the same sweaty atmospheric vibe where these four men undertake a ridiculous and deadly mission fighting the vagaries of nature, themselves and each other.

Mrs. Pimpin: OK. Who is acting in it?

Pimpin: It has Roy Schnieder who worked with Friedkin in another crime film called The French Connection. Im not a big fan of his. But it has this great French actor called Bruno Cremer. I was not aware of him. He owned this film. The two other lead actors were quite tough looking too.

Mrs. Pimpin: How were the action scenes?

Pimpin: Absolutely spectacular. Some of the best hands on action sequences ever filmed. Even better than Deliverance. It also has this terrorist blast that shocks the hell out of you due to some amazing sound effects of the screams of the victims.

Mrs. Pimpin: I'm surprised you haven't spoken about the background score.

Pimpin: Oh yes. I already downloaded it. The film has a very eerie sounding electronic score by this band called Tangerine Dream.

Mrs. Pimpin: Jeez! So you will be playing it in the car from now on?

Pimpin: Er, yeah.

Mrs. Pimpin: So where does Pazuzu feature in all of this?

Pimpin: Like I said, there is a carving of Pazuzu at the beginning of the film. And even the front of the trucks driven by the men look a lot like Pazuzu. Its almost as if there is some sort of devilish force driving these men to undertake this mission. These are not ordinary working class men. They are terrorists, assassins, bankers and thieves who have taken refuge in this Latin American country. Louis Ferdinand's quote - "It's not the good Lord who rules, it's the devil. Man and Nature's disgusting, just look at it, bird life, animal life." came to mind while watching this film.

Mrs. Pimpin: OK. I don't think I want to watch this.

Pimpin: I insist that you do. Come on man, I watched Prem Ratan Dhan Payo with you last weekend.

Mrs. Pimpin: OK then. You would watch it a second time?

Pimpin: Absolutely.
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