This adaptation of the novel by Georges Arnaud, which also inspired Henri-Georges Clouzot’s suspense classic The Wages of Fear (1953), is director William Friedkin’s favorite of all his films, mainly because it came closer than any other to his original vision. This tale of four men in a South American backwater who sign on to drive a cargo of dynamite through perilous terrain started as a low-budget film. As Friedkin expanded his vision to include nail-biting sequences as the trucks cross a rickety rope bridge and navigate treacherous mountain roads, the budget rose to $22 million. Initially a critical and box-office failure, partly because of overwhelming competition from Star Wars (1977), the film has enjoyed a critical renaissance in recent years. Now hailed as one of the masterpieces of the ’70s, the film has been praised for its economical storytelling, lavish production values and Friedkin’s expert manipulation of the themes of fate and human responsibility. In 2013, the director supervised this new, digital restoration that premiered to great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival.
Dir. William Friedkin
In attendance: William Friedkin