Named by Quentin Tarantino as one of the 12 best films ever made, this legendary box office disaster was one of the movies that put an end to the era of directorial power in Hollywood. Yet its reputation has soared in recent years and with this new restoration supervised by William Friedkin himself, we have a chance to reevaluate a suspense thriller that cries out to be seen.
A professional hit in Vera Cruz; a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem; bank fraud and suicide in Paris; and a church robbery, priest wounding, and car crash in Jersey — Buñuel star Francisco Rabal, Amidou, Bruno Cremer, and French Connection’s Roy Scheider find themselves down and out in a nameless South American flea pit. How to get out? Easy. In the wake of an oil well explosion, just drive two rickety trucks carrying extremely unstable nitroglycerin through 200 miles of dense jungle to put it out. Following up his two successive smashes of The French Connection and The Exorcist, Friedkin’s spectacular remake of Clouzot’s classic The Wages of Fear grafts a whole lot more backstory and a whole different terrain onto the basic framework, with two hair-raising passages of heavy trucks driving in a tropical downpour on a decrepit, swaying suspension bridge over a raging river.
"An audacious masterpiece! Friedkin’s reinterpretation of Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece is among his most daring works. Three sequences alone— a chaotic car crash in Boston, the unloading of charred bodies in a Central American village, and the explosives-laden trucks crossing a rickety storm-blown bridge — render Sorcerer a classic and retain their power to make audiences gasp. Released the same year as Star Wars, [it] represents the braver road abandoned by the studio system.”—Haden Guest