In our continuing series of 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams, we look at William Friedkin’s Sorcerer.
Sorcerer – William Friedkin‘s remake of Henri Georges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear – was a lumbering ego ridden production nightmare and on its release a big budget disaster at the box office which effectively ended Friedkin’s post-Exorcist wunderkind reputation and put him in the naughty corner, soon to be joined by Michael Cimino, but the film is an amazing sweaty feast of male angst and explosive tension. A group of disparate renegades – a stick up man, a French swindler, a hit man and a terrorist – wind up in a South American mining town. When a fire breaks out in the mine, they seize the high risk job of transporting boxes of nitroglycerin through the jungle in a pair of beaten up monster trucks. Friedkin throws everything at the men: rickety bridges, felled trees, roaring rivers and gun-toting banditos. The mutually suspicious men must learn to put aside their distrust and work together.
Following his rocket to stardom with Jaws, Roy Scheider gives perhaps his best performance, and the film is full of intense furrow-browed seriousness and elemental . But coming as it did in the immediate wake of Star Wars with an opening quarter of an hour without any English dialogue and featuring a host of unsympathetic characters doing an apparently ludicrous thing, Sorcerer – oh and the f*cking title was a mistake as well – went directly down the box office toilet without touching the sides and was roundly thrashed by a critical community who were already hostile to the idea of a jumped up yank remaking a classic of French Cinema. A remastered version is due out next year and a revival will deservedly be afoot by then.
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