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Drama, Action, Adventure, Western
IMDB rating:
John Huston


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Walter Huston as Howard
Tim Holt as Curtin
Barton MacLane as McCormick (as Barton Mac Lane)
Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat
Arturo Soto Rangel as Presidente (as A. Soto Rangel)
Manuel Dondé as El Jefe (as Manuel Donde)
José Torvay as Pablo (as Jose Torvay)
Margarito Luna as Pancho
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Storyline: Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled prospector named Howard and decide to join with him in search of gold in the wilds of central Mexico. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster.
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"I know what gold does to men's souls."
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is movie about greed, contempt and passions. Authentic location, phenomenal atmosphere, almost perfect scenery and exceptionally convincing acting elements of the film on which it is necessary to pay attention. This movie is without a doubt one of the best adventure westerns. Few of them. It's a fact.

The nature of the film is not realistic, I'd rather say that is magical. Human relationships in the film are more than realistic. The richness of the human character in this case act incompatible. The hunt for gold leads to a collision of two civilizations. Ironically, the lack of knowledge creates a more natural effect. Greed, contempt and passion in each of the protagonists can be seen individually.

Although I think this movie quite intelligent, I am impressed with his pace.

Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs, extremely shocking role. Bogart was one of my favorite actors. The character that is rotten from the start. We have a chance to see the physical, moral and psychological decline of one character in the film. In the end, greed and contempt destroying all human in it. Excellent performance, at times I was stunned.

Walter Huston as Howard Probably the most important character in the story. A brace or symbol. In certain moments of passion and philosophy of knowledge. The character who humorously touching human consciousness and virtues. Tim Holt as Bob Curtin He is a visible change in the character. I never would have described as the villain. He is soon honest, but positive figure. Character that will satisfy any change that is better in the current situation in which he lives.

It is not gold. Character and raw nature is. Gold dust, which the wind carried away. Human virtue that man keeps to himself.
A classic morality tale masterfully directed by John Huston
Much before Sergio Leone, this to me was one of the earliest revisionist Westerns. John Huston was a maverick, and this movie was a classic. One of the early Westerns that turned the genre on it's head. Grubby looking, unsympathetic characters with shades of Grey. Nothing really redeeming about the main characters, who were basically guys driven by greed and an urge for survival in the harshest climes. The only character with some ethics seems to be the old prospector Howard( played by Walter Huston). Humphrey Bogart's Dobsie is as anti hero as it comes, a man whose greed and paranoia get the better of him. This is a classic, a fascinating character study of men, driven by greed and vanity.
They didn't find gold, they found themselves.
I had the great pleasure of being shown this film in my Screen writing course at my University and from the moment it ended, it has stayed with me. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a very hard film for me to categorize. It is a film that exists outside of the boundaries and genres; thus creating it's own style in the process. It appears that many films since have borrowed several elements from the story (Raiders of the Lost Ark, There Will Be Blood, etc.) but I can think of none that are exactly like it.

The story is kept neat and simple; three men head off on a journey into the Mexican mountains to find gold. Yes, gold is what they came for but what they found was much more complex. Each character in the film discovers something about themselves as the film progresses. It's more than just a simple screen story; it's an amazing study of character and drama.

Now, for all of my praise the film does suffer from a few inadequacies. I did not particularly care for the second act nor did I find the antagonists very threatening. They played more for comic relief than anything else. However, these are very trivial errors when you compare them to the film's more amazing qualities.

Humphrey Bogart gives a very menacing and powerful performance in this film, though he is not initially frightening. The audience is instead forced to sit and watch as his character slowly descends into madness and is completely corrupted by greed. The role appeals to our morbidly curious side; we crave to look away from the destruction that unfolds from within his character's psyche and yet we cannot pull our gaze away from it. It is Bogart's best acting. Yes even better than Rick from Casablanca and I do not feel bold in the slightest for saying so.

The lead star is only matched by his supporting cast. Walter Huston, speaking about one hundred words a minute in his incredibly endearing, academy award winning role. Tim Holt is also highly capable as the young, impressionable sidekick to Bogart. He stays morally and ethically sound; remaining firmly on the side of goodness and integrity. You can well imagine what kind of brutal conflict this creates between him and Bogart; some of their shared scenes are among my favourites in the film.

This review would be a failure if I never mentioned Max Steiner's amazing score. Sierra Madre contains some of the best accompanying music I've ever heard from a film of it's age. The main theme in particular is exhilarating, powerful and adventurous. I do have the very distinct feeling that John Williams was influenced by this score.

I could probably sit here and write page after page of why this film is so significant, but the best way to know why is to just experience it for yourself. Once again, this film is more than just a simple story. One by one, it progressively peals back layers of itself to reveal the true story underneath. The human psyche, moral codes and relational conflict are all explored to a great extreme and I enjoyed every moment of it. The third act in particular is absolutely exceptional. This film is a mirror to humanity; displaying all of it's worst and all of it's best. Watch The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and you will know yourself better than you ever thought you did.
It's The All-Time Number One
There are many reasons why this masterwork of art is the greatest film ever made but there are two major ones. First, it is the best combination of creative expression and realism ever put on film. Second it touches on more genres (adventure, character study, drama, murder, psychology, cultures and social values) than any other film. All these genres are wrapped around the central theme of GREED. The other reasons are, of course, named Huston, Bogart, Huston and Traven. The great John Huston outdid himself with both his screenplay and direction in this film which he took many years to undertake and finish. His incomparable scene making is displayed in monumental glory here. Huston insisted on much of the film being made on location in Mexico (extremely rare in Hollywood at the time) and WB was in the end despite the cost, thrilled when they saw the outcome. Huston's dad, Walter was nothing short of sensational in this, his career performance. Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs was perhaps only topped by Capt. Queeg among his many singularly memorable fictional film characters. Huston as the supreme screen writer he was, worked with the book's mysterious author B. Traven and stayed close to the book's story. This film was nothing like Hollywood had ever produced up to that time and was more like an "arty-Euro" film. There were two injustices inflicted on the appreciation side of this amazing film experience. Neither Bogart or Bedoya were even nominated by the academy for their riveting and unique performances. Needless to say, this is the number one "must see" in American film.
Treasure This!
Most excellent entertainment offered bar none. Who doesn't like a good story properly told and directed and acted out to perfection that remains timeless? Here it is! None other that the subject that is one of the banes of mankind i.e. "greed" is explored and the viewer is invited to ask what would I do or have done if that was me? Remember, there are no wrong answers as we all do what we must to figure out what works and what doesn't sometimes realizing there is a better way and sometimes not. We wont know unless we take the risk to know. That point is made quite well when the old man in the story simply states if we don't take a risk we can't make a gain. Of course as a viewer we have no stake in the movie except an emotional one but that teaches quite well along with holding your attention from start to finish. As a story, it unfolds rather nicely introducing you to the characters and allowing each their substance. What this does is make the move memorable for its quality scenes of which there are so many resulting in a comeback experience. I have seen this movie so many times and each time I am fed well just like a thanksgiving dinner. Greed, who hasn't suffered by it or for it makes its entrance and doesn't leave until moderated and brought into control. Not the other guys greed mind you but your own. When you become sensible then you may help or comment on others. The conclusion of the movie is ultra-satisfying and leaves you with a sense of adventure well lived just for the experience alone. This is what life is all about. Kudos to all involved including of course the author of the book of which I recommend reading. What is the Treasure of the Sierra Madre? I know what you think it is and what the story says but leave yourself open to discover perhaps riches not of this world. Good movie to eat a meal by with a tasty drink and superior snack to follow. Put this one in your film library!
A compelling adventure
We are slowly drawn into the lives of three men who go off into the mountains in search of gold. The story seduces the viewer with its seeming simplicity. We come to know these three men as real people and become involved with what they are doing and what happens to them.

The theme is simple: there is something more valuable than gold. But the way the theme is presented to us is the real art. Consider the scene around the campfire which is followed by the scene in the Indian village. These two simple settings present the theme without turning it into a sermon.

The plot is probably ancient. Chaucer used it in one of the CANTERBURY TALES. But the plot endures because it makes us look at why we are alive.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Humphrey Bogart and John Huston collaborated on five films together, among them, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The 1948 film also starring Walter Huston and Tim Holt has remained a classic for both the noted actor and director. This is one of my favorite Bogart-had- to-play-this roles. I'm just not convinced that the film would have translated as well had it not been for Bogart playing the down-on- his-luck, then paranoid, amateur prospector. The story of two impoverished men overcome by greed when they finally have a chance to strike it rich in Mexico was also a perfect tale for Huston to tell and audiences have been gifted with the perfect collaboration since its release nearly 70 years ago.

Fred Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) is an American desperately searching for work in Mexico. Unable to find a job, hes taken to panhandling until he meets Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), a fellow American also looking for work. The two consider themselves fortunate when asked to do a job that pays $8 a day when the job is finished. Soon after the job's completion, the two are never paid and realize they were scammed out of the money they've earned. They venture into town to find the man who scammed them, after a certain brand of persuasion, they are given their dues. Dobbs and Curtin then meet a gold prospector and decide to pool their financial resources and efforts in searching for gold. What begins as a valiant team effort searching for financial independence, quickly turns to severe paranoia and greed once they realize they may have riches in their midst.

No matter how hard I may try, I can never get through a review of a Humphrey Bogart movie without gushing over the actor. Yes, Bogart has played this type of role (the hardened tough guy) in other films, but the reason he was sought after for the role so many times is because he was fantastic at playing it. Bogart had a way of encapsulating the tormented tough guy and the vulnerable, isolated parts of the same person like no one I have ever seen before. John Huston is truly the master of the adventure film, continuously finding a way to keep audiences engaged. The best thing about Huston's adventure films is that they keep one engaged without constant action. The action scenes are wonderful, no doubt, but Huston was also masterful in establishing tension between characters and illustrating it well enough for the audiences to be enough a part of it that they are on the edge of their seats the whole time. The part of Cody, the intruder who tries to partner up with Dobbs and Curtin, seems tailor-made for Burt Lancaster. Lancaster was quite busy in '48, starring in four films that year, but I just would have loved to see him in that role. Huston told a masterful tale of how money and capital influence everyone, even if you're sure money could never change you. Dobbs and Curtin were so hard up for money, they were sure they would be happy with enough to get by if they were fortunate enough to find any gold at all, until they did.

The Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre came when Bogart's Dobbs first sees the gold he and his team found. After struggling for so long, all Dobbs can think of is that he has asked passersby for money for the last time. Dobbs is sure that he will never have to struggle again, as long as he can get home with his share. Almost simultaneously, Dobbs also becomes incredibly paranoid that his team is going to outwit him and crush the dreams he has for his fortune. The paranoia and euphoria captured on Dobbs' face as the gold is weighed is the perfect Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, as only Bogie could capture it.
Ann Sheridan, my eye!
Ann Sheridan my eye.

I've just viewed the new Warner Brother's Classic DVD of this great film with commentary by Eric Lax and I have some commentary of my own.

Firstly, I saw the still of Anne Sheridan posing with the crew in Mexico among the 'extras' but I have run the scene where she supposedly plays the prostitute back and forth and even considering Hollywood's make-up know-how, the black wig, etc., there is no way at all that is her. I looked at it with a picture of Ann Sheridan next to the screen and the eyes and jaw-line are totally different than that. My theory is that Sheridan did go to Mexico and did film such a scene but Huston or Warners decided not to use it for some reason and it was reshot but the story that that is Anne Sheridan remained alive.

Mr. Lax identified the guy in the bar who warns Dobbs and Curtain about McCormick as Tim Holt's father Jack and goes on to tell the story of his life and career but in fact that actor, as the IMDb shows is Pat Flaherty. Jack Holt is the guy in the flophouse that Howard is talking to when we first encounter him.

Lax has a tendency to discuss the biographies and resumes of people involved with the film ad nauseum instead of discussing what we are seeing on screen, which is what commentaries are all about. At one point he describes the history of the Warner Brothers and how they got into the movie business.

One thing he could have spent more time on is Humphrey Bogart's hairpieces. In the barber shop scene, we see Dobbs setting all slicked up- and slicked down. He actually looks awful in this scene, like a 70 year old trying to make himself look half his age, (he is of course looking for female companionship but the prospects appear dimmer than he imagines unless money is involved). Later, when Dobbs is going nuts, he sports a wonderful thatch of thick curly hair. Even though his character is dirty and exhausted Bogart somehow looks a generation younger than he does in the barbershop scene. He looks downright handsome and a little wild.

Lax continually describes Bogart's character as 'loathsome' and compares him to the gangsters he played early in his career. I disagree. What this really is is the greatest departure from the 'star' system by a male actor in the history of the Golden Age of Hollywood. All the characters they played were either virtuous, with their virtue somehow granting them great mental and martial abilities, or tragically flawed but powerful, with a great 'Is this the End for Rico?' or 'Top of the World Ma!' ending. Here we see that Dobbs, even at the beginning is a rather pathetic man who has been beaten down by life. He still has a few shreds of common decency left, enough to forge a tenuous friendship with Curtin and a partnership with Howard. The thought that his ship has finally come in through the acquisition of gold becomes his undoing. He expects life to take it away from him and figures, wrongly, that his partners are the biggest threat to his salvation. His growing paranoia separates him from them and leaves him vulnerable to the bandits who fulfill his expectation of doom. He does a despicable thing but is a pathetic, almost sympathetic character who is in no way similar to the gangsters Bogie played in the previous decade.

Look at the careers of Gable, Tracy, Cooper, Cagney, Fonda, Stewart or any of the others and you'll not find a single Fred C. Dobbs.
My Favorite Movie: Learn To Lose and Laugh My Friends
Spoilers Ahead:

Greed is not presented as a force beyond conquering. It is a grave error to see this as simply a movie about greed by moralists. Curtain and Howard defeat it easily, Howard more easily because of his age and nearness to death. Dodds is destroyed; he is consumed until nothing of his personality remains. We see the predilections that led to this outcome. Notice his vanity with the haircut, hardly a necessity when begging, and his chasing after the prostitute. The little scene of his cruelty to the lottery boy all seem to be quite trivial and innocuous. Sadly, they are the inclinations that grow into monstrous proportions once the piles of gold begin to accumulate. Notice, Dodds is the one who wants it split up every night, this triggers hiding one's stash, always on the lookout for discovery. Huston takes some of the real bite out of greed and its partner murder by having the bandits arrive just when they are about to shoot Cody. Again, Cody is conveniently killed in the battle, again, sparing us from seeing the murder all three of them were about to commit for their gold. The voting to kill him is a nice reminder not to enshrine democracy, the majority is often wrong. Do not fall in love with the consensus of idiots.

Dodds begins spiraling out of control whenever temptation falls on him. Howard leaves to help the natives, Dodd's complaints about the extra burros is just a subterfuge for stealing Howard's goods which also is why Dodds endorsed Howard leaving with such enthusiasm. This is not good enough; he projects his greed onto Curtain and convinces himself he has to kill him to survive. As before, with his stash, earlier predilections in Dodds are growing getting more and more dangerous. After he thinks he killed Curtain, watch the fire grow and grow as he mocks having a conscience, trying to convince himself. You do not need me to tell you what the growing fire signifies. Do not feel sorry for Dodds at the waterhole where the bandits kill him; he would have joyfully shot all of them if he had any bullets. Many people think the natives slow down or wreck the film, they are there to remind us of the poor and suffering surrounding these gold mad maniacs.

The point of the movie is not that greed is evil; it is how to handle losing things which is an existential fact of human life. First Howard then Curtain laugh at losing everything, having it blown by the Hand of God back to where it came from. When they were saying what they would do with the money, listen to the beautiful music, re-prised again when Curtain talks about picking fruit with the poor and sleeping, singing under the stars. This is the film's message: a simple, basic spartan life free of desire. It is so hard within an economy that thrives upon creating eternal desire and boundless wants. The message is not just that greed is evil; it is how much do you require to be happy? Happiness is from within where all true wealth is, its reification into material goods will only be like drinking sea water; it makes you thirstier. Lose and laugh, my friends, for the last laugh is on all of us. We too blow away in the wind, love and goodness are all we can ever take with us. They are meant to be given to all we meet. MY FAVORITE MOVIE

"He who possesses is himself possessed." Nietzsche

"All that is not given is lost." A Hindu Saying
When dreams turn to dust blown away in the desert wind
A morality story of distrust, savagery, and survival in the Mexican desert

Three men roaming the world at loose ends hook up in Tampico, Mexico and band together to prospect for gold. We have the hard-luck, embittered wanderer, Fred Dobbs, "Dobsy," the grizzled, veteran prospector, Howard, and the youngest of the trio, the decent, callow Bob Curtin.

Joining forces, they share a commonality of purpose: they all lust to find that one big strike that will give them the riches to set them up for life. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt play these three itinerants, making for a powerful ensemble of talent whose performances bring a timeless relevance to this story of human greed, and redemption. With these elements the film could have easily been just another preachy sermon with cardboard characters representing good and evil. But here… not so. The acting is superb, the script is intelligent and vivid. John Huston's direction shows that he understood the motivational complexities at play in these three men; he knew what these men were about and was able to transfer that admirably to the movie screen.

Humphrey Bogart's "Dobsy," a man embittered by life, is fully invested, body and soul in this search for gold. His commitment is fierce, total and uncompromising. The desert trek for the big gold strike is his last chance to grab the prize of the brass ring after enduring a lifetime of long, dead end, bumpy rides.

Howard, as masterfully portrayed by Walter Huston, is the wise old man seasoned by hardscrabble experience. No illusions for this old-timer; he serves as the voice of reason and moral principles. He's the pillar of strength straddling the middle ground, constantly policing clashes between his two cohorts. When Dobbs and Curtin clash he's the mediating force working to diffuse tension and stave off violent argument.

Tim Holt plays the guy who has the physical and emotional advantages of youth on his side. Not yet beaten down by life into a fatalistic pessimism, he has an inner decency, and expectations; to him life is still a vista of possibilities.

The threat of Mexican bandits lurks among the three prospectors as a constant threat. The banditos offer a hovering menace as well as a device for black humor. Actor Alfonso Bedoya, the head bad guy, utters a few lines of dialogue that still resonate today. When challenged he voices a self-proclaimed authority that needs no official validation. He doesn't "need no stinking badges!"

A story of desperation, greed, and of how fate… that unpredictable determinator inserts itself into events to throw a wrench in the works, turning the best laid plans of men into just dust blowing in the desert wind.
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