Comfortable and Furious

Sorcerer (1977)

Sorcerer: (a truck, and not your Tonka truck, Bart)

Directed by William Friedkin

Screenplay by Walton Green

A remake of Wages of Fear

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

With: Roy Scheider  (in the Yves Montand part)

Several actors were offered roles and declined.  Among them was Robert Mitchum, who asked, “Why would I want to go to Ecuador for two or three months to fall out of a truck? I can do that outside my house.”

Then there are some supporting players whose names I cannot recall and am too lazy to look-up…sort of like Goat. (Dear lay reader of Ruthless, please do not bother with my barbs directed at fellow Ruthless reviewers, for they are all in the spirit of fun and graceful malice).

Anyway, the supporting actors would have no doubt declined in chorus with Bob Mitchum had they consulted a fortune teller or possessed common sense. The story in this film is delayed by Friedkin’s director vision thing while we waste time in segments shot in Mexico (an assassin uses a silencer on a revolver, if you can believe it), Paris, Israel and NYC to provide necessary backstory.  Ho hum.

The action begins in a Columbian shithole where the victims of this farce has sought refuge after their various crimes.  It is the kind of place where Doc McCoy and wifey Carol ended up at the end of The Getaway, the book not the movie. An oil company is exploiting the locals with an oil well that has a blowout.  The Energy Gods of Huston have ordered the well to be up and pumping real soon.

Damnit, Red Adair is not available so it is left to the local oil company exploiters to do the job.  Some sweaty dynamite (think nitro), six cases, has to make the 218 journeys over bumpy roads from Ciudad Mierda to the oil fields to blow out the fire.  But who is to drive the two trucks loaded with explosives?  Hmmm….

A Palestinian, a Mexican, a Frenchman and a New Yorker walk into this bar and are hired to drive the death trucks for the big bucks. Roy and the lads resurrect some clunkers from the wrecking yard and fix ’em right up. No waiting for parts from Japan or Germany for these boys.  No…  Roy’s ride is named, you guessed it, Sorcerer!  Does the name have a special relevance?


The road.  What comes to mind is Korzybski observation, “A map is not the territory it represents…” The map given to Roy is not exactly up to date. The road has not been repaired since the time of Simón Bolívar (that is a very long time, for all you Tarantino fans.). 

Along the road the boys have some near misses.  You know, the slightest bump could set off the crabby dynamite. You don’t even want to look at that shit man, you just might piss it off. At the happy end, at least one case of explosive makes to the burning well and douses the fire.  Well, we must rely on dialogue for that as we do not get to see it.  No sound effects of it, either.

As happens to all of us, Roy’s past catches up with him.  Joy postponed for ever, and it ain’t the library cop after him for failing to return Lady Chatterly’s Lover, either.

I should mention the bridge crossing, the one that is on all the one-sheets. On the suspense scale, a Solid 3 out of 10.  Noteworthy because of the price-tag of a million dollars.  That is ten million in today’s dollars adjusted for the Reagan Revolution. 

I saw Sorcerer after waiting in a long line at a Westwood theater, just like I had for The Exorcist and Friedkin’s other films. As the end credits rolled I stumble out on to the sidewalk muttering to myself, “the guy who directed The French Connection made this piece of shit?”

However, here I am; too old to Rock ‘en Roll and too young to die, and yet not trusting my youthful judgement, so when Sorcerer popped up on the Criterion Channel, I gave it a second go after almost 50 years. 

The message here is: trust your memory. Friedkin was not to redeem himself until years later with To Live and Die in LA.

PS  Rent Wages of Fear instead of Sorcerer.






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