Buried at the time of William Friedkin's shabby remake (Sorcerer) but now blessedly with us again, this confirms the view of Clouzot as one of the sourest of modern film-makers. A slow first hour establishes a world of sweating, poor expatriates hanging out in the feverish bars in French colonial Latin America, which inevitably brings to mind such far-flung adventurer films as Only Angels Have Wings. But Hawks' classic depends upon the fraternal bonds forged among his existential heroes by flying in the face of death. When Clouzot's foursome decide to drive a load of nitro-glycerine through the jungle in order to raise some cash, the motive is greed and the results are as black a vision of human infidelity as any since Othello. The cliff-edge tension wracks the nerves, of course, but never obscures the fact that men in contest with each other will crack up and die; one truck blows away without reason; the other only arrives by running over its co-driver, in an oil-pool that looks like the pit of hell. A reeking bandana movie, with all the expected thrills, but a vision of men as scurrying insects with no redeeming features. CPea.
Cast and crew
Peter Van Eyck