Hazmat Movie Night: The Wages of Fear (1953)

Posted on 9/24/2018 by Roger Marks

shutterstock_604261466.jpgWe don’t get into pop culture too often here at Lion News, we’re mostly too busy studying the CFR, State regulations, and the Federal Register for updates that impact industry professionals. But this week, we saw a classic movie that we think hazardous materials professionals will relate to and enjoy.

The Wages of Fear (1953) centers around a team of drivers who sign on to transport nitroglycerine for a local oil and gas company.

Despite treacherous road conditions and dubious infrastructure, these brave but inexperienced drivers carefully load two trucks with 100 gallons of nitroglycerine each. The second half of the movie makes for a thrilling journey as we watch these men struggle to make the delivery safely and in time to avert a disaster.


Hazmat Training in The Wages of Fear

We’re not exactly sure what qualified as “hazmat training” in 1953. After all, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Control Act (and later the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA)) wouldn’t become US law until the 70s, and the hazmat training standard we know today wasn’t in place until the 1990s.

The hazmat training shown in this film consists of a room full of potential drivers, none of whom are wearing any form of personal protective equipment, watching a “manager” pour a drop of nitroglycerine onto the floor, which causes a loud explosion. The “new hires” are told in no uncertain terms that the chemical is very dangerous and that even that a bump in the road could have fatal consequences. 

That’s better than nothing, we suppose.

A French and Italian film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and starring Yves Montand, The Wages of Fear won the Grand Prize at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival and was chosen as Best Film by the British Film Academy in 1954.

Criterion, a cataloger of classic cinema, has released a full original cut of the movie, and you can read more about the film’s plot and themes on Criterion’s website.

Here’s the trailer:

Tags: dangerous, goods, hazardous materials, hazmat, hazmat shipping, movies

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