Sorcerer (1977) – reviewed by George

This remake of Clouzot’s 1953 film was directed by William Friedkin, and the screenplay was written by Walon Green, based on the novel “The Wages of Fear” by Georges Arnaud, not on Clouzot’s screenplay.It’s quite a different bird, since almost all the set pieces have been changed in some way.
This version begins with backstories for the four male principals, as follows:
Vera Cruz: A man goes back and forth between his hotel room balcony and a dining table set with food, so that he can both eat and watch the festivities in the square below. Nilo, or Jo before, enters and with a silenced automatic murders the man.
Jerusalem: Three men in yarmulkas sitting at a bus stop rise to board the bus. They leave a bag behind. As the bus turns a corner the bag explodes with horrific loss of life. Back in their rooms they plan on their escape, even as the Israeli army closes in and kills three men. But one of them must have been innocent because Kassem (Bimba before) gets away.
Paris: Victor Manzon (Luigi before) and his wife share a happily-married moment, and he goes off to the bank where he finds himself facing bankruptcy plus arrest. He promises full payment the next day, and rushes off to talk to his partner. The partner’s father must pay the debt. But the man refuses, and the happily-married man absconds without a word to anyone.
Elizabeth, Nw Jersey: Four hoods hit a church, where in a back room some priests are counting scads of money, identifying each new amount by the parish it came from. The hoods grab the cash, but one priest resists and is shot by Jacky Scanlon (Roy Scheider). During the getaway, Scanlon (Mario before), who is driving, wrecks the car, but gets away before the cops arrive. Later Scanlon pays his last $2000 for a passport and a boat ticket. “Where am I going? he asks. The response: “I swear I don’t know.”
And now the story:
Three men, Scanlon, now known as Dominguez, Manzon (Bruno Cremer), now Serrano, and Kassem, (Amidou), now Martinez, are stranded in a small town in Nicaragua. Nilo (Francisco Rabal) shows up using his real name. The well explodes, local men are killed, the town riots against the Americans and against the local police, the nitro must be trucked in, it has degraded over time since it was not “turned” regularly, driving tests are given by Corlette (Ramon Bieri), the head of the office, and the winners are Dominguez, Serrano, Martinez, and Marquez (Karl John). At the appointed hour Marquez does not show, but Nilo does. Martinez runs back to the houses and finds Marquez murdered. He attacks Nilo, but is convinced to shut up. They pair off: Dominguez and Nilo, Serrano and Martinez. The trip and the rough patches are different, and maybe also more suspenseful. At least they were to me, since with the changes I couldn’t be sure that what had happened before would happen again. There’s a lot here to like, and I think it best to watch both versions – the reader who decides to do this should choose the order in which to watch the films.

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