A few words about Sorcerer (1977)

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Continuing my coverage on the films of William Friedkin I got round to watching Sorcerer (1974) last night. The Sorcerer was Friedkin’s first film after the huge international success, and do not forget controversy, of the The Exorcist (1973). Apparently upon it’s first screenings in the US people were frantically queuing up to see it but unfortunately these queues were all but gone in the second week of release. This is no doubt due to Sorcerer being a completely different film to The Exorcist. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.

After a heist goes badly wrong Jackie Scanlon (Roy Scheider) is forced to leave the US and start a new life in South America. When a large fire breaks out at the local oil plant the owner hires Scanlon and three other outcasts to drive two trucks containing extremely volatile nitroglycerin 200 miles to assist in extinguishing the fire.

Though the pacing is uneven during the first thirty minutes it soon picks up in the second half of the film as the four characters encounter different obstacles when trying to drive the trucks through a jungle. The scene when they are driving the trucks over a worn rope bridge is particularly tense. One cannot help but feel that if this was released after The French Connection (1971) instead of The Exorcist it would have received much greater recognition.

The region one DVD from Universal features an acceptable full-frame transfer but the original 1.66:1 framing would have been welcomed. Disappointingly there are no special features present. Like a number of Friedkin’s other films, there is another edit of this film in existence and considering it’s chequered past, poor reception and Friedkin’s own high regard for the film it would have been nice to have had an audio commentary at least.

This forgotten film is another quality entry in Friedkin’s canon and like the recently re-released Cruising (1980), which I intend to review next, deserves to be lavished with greater attention.

UPDATE

I spoke to soon, a special edition DVD of Sorcerer, and possibly HD-DVD, is being prepared for release late 2007/early 2008.

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