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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Drama, Action, Adventure, Western
IMDB rating:
John Huston
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
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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Gold Fever and Greedy Fools
In 1925 Tampico, a destitute American, stiffed by his ne'er-do-well employer, wins a small lottery and teams up with an honest co-worker and a wily prospector to pan for gold in the Sierra Madre mountains. Writer-director John Huston, faithfully adapting B. Traven's novel, opens the film with a wry flourish, which peaks with a justified fist-fight in the local bar; the second and third acts are less satisfying, with the arc of Humphrey Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs character oddly (and improbably) turning from humble protagonist to mad-dog killer (without any preparation from the filmmaker). The melodramatic or sympathetic turns of the plot don't match up with the initial 30 minutes, which have a sarcastic or mocking tone, although the film is forceful throughout, well-produced and immensely watchable. Not a commercial success in 1948, "Sierra Madre" now holds a reputation as a classic, mostly due to Walter Huston's juicy, Oscar-winning supporting performance as the razor-sharp old coot. John Huston, father of Walter, also won statues for both his direction and screenplay. *** from ****
This movie is the true treasure
Based on German author B. Traven's 1927 novel with the same title, the movie has a great set on about men losing their sanity due to Greed. It's was create by Traven to blast the United States for coming to Mexico only to exploit the country's natural resources after the Mexican Revoultion left the country in ruins. It can also mirror what he felt about United States exploit European countries like Germany after World War I. The only problem is that nobody had the slightest idea who he was. Some people feel that B. Traven is a nom de plum, (Pen Name) as the author's true identity, nationality, and background have been hotly contested from the start, a literary guessing game surpassed only by the who-wrote-Shakespeare controversy. While it's never explain who is the man under the novel, it's clear as day that John Huston directed this movie. This John Huston film begins with Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) a loner bumming off money from rich people and taking odd jobs at Tampico, Mexico in 1925. It's never explain why Fred Dobbs is there, broke or why there were so many poor Americans living in Mexico at that time, when it's clearly proved that United States was riding high at the time. In my opinion, Traven was a Anarchist, not fan of Capitalism and he use Fred Dobbs as a tool to show the wrongs of it. The audience is made to believe, that Fred Dobbs into might have came from America to Mexico due to some crime unexplained in his past, which would help explain why it was easier mislead by dreams of getting rich. Tired of getting rip-off for their hard work and naive nature, and not getting pay. Dobbs and his co-worker/friend Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) decide to join a grizzled old prospector Howard (Walter Huston) in search of gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into tragedy. The greed hits Dobbs hard, as it's turns into a Mammon type character. Dobbs is unreasonably afraid that he will be killed by his partners losing his trust, and always trying to see about killing them first because of the three lusting to possess the entire treasure. While Humphrey Bogart is awesome actor, his character is not the Indiana Jones hero that unknown people who haven't read the novel are thinking coming in this movie. Dobbs is a awful character who just get worst and worst with the gold. Dobbs isn't the hero, Howard or Curtin are more honorable to be label heroes due to them getting their redemption. I think Tim Holt got short shift for one of the great displays of acting in this movie. Huston makes the movie funny with his knee slapping dance while Bogat gives the movie it's dark side. Huston does a remarkable job of depicting the prospectors' collective slide into distrust and then outright paranoia. It's a American adventure story as a mythic battle between reason and madness. There are plenty of actions, from bar fights to shoot outs with Mexican bandits. In the bar fight, it's just amazes that the camera is so close and yet they use doubles so effectively. Put the guys face in shadow and it is amazing how you can not recognize his stunt double if not pausing the frame. The movie has a very interesting screenplay, and the film has a speech full of human psychology and people's reaction to greed. Gold doesn't change a man, it just reveals what he really is. This is a statement on value and finding out what or who you really are, and what is of real value. Best (inadvertent) summation of Adam Smith's " Wealth of Nations " in my opinion. The film is also known for it's famous one-liner about badges, or what I heard 'stinking badgers'. Yes, you don't want stinking badgers there. That would be bad. I don't know why it's famous, its rather funny than dramatic but it will always be special because of how Alphonso Bedoya says it. Once upon a time, Sierra Madre had the stigma of having been written by a Socialist. However, the film has a neutral philosophy and deals with the theme of human nature, rather than any particular message, so it get a pass. Check it out and tell me what you think of the film.
A Classic Movie About Greed
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a film written and directed by John Huston, a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, in which two impecunious Americans Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) during the 1920s in Mexico join with an old- timer, Howard (Walter Huston, the director's father), to prospect for gold. The old-timer accurately predicts trouble, but is willing to go anyway.

John Huston's 1948 treasure-hunt classic begins as drifter Fred C. Dobbs ,down and out in Tampico, Mexico, impulsively spends his last bit of dough on a lottery ticket. Later on, Dobbs and fellow indigent Curtin seek shelter in a cheap flophouse and meet Howard, a toothless, garrulous old coot who regales them with stories about prospecting for gold. Forcibly collecting their pay from their shifty boss, Dobbs and Curtin combine this money with Dobbs's unexpected windfall from a lottery ticket and, together with Howard, buy the tools for a prospecting expedition. Dobbs has pledged that anything they dig up will be split three ways, but Howard, who's heard that song before, doesn't quite swallow this. As the gold is mined and measured, Dobbs grows increasingly paranoid and distrustful, and the men gradually turn against each other on the way toward a bitterly ironic conclusion.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a superior morality play and one of the best movie treatments of the corrosiveness of greed and this darkly humorous morality tale represents John Huston at his finest.Greed, a despicable passion out of which other base ferments may spawn, is seldom treated in the movies with the frank and ironic contempt that is vividly manifested toward the movie.But nevertheless,it has never really been about gold but about character, and Bogart fearlessly makes Fred C. Dobbs into a pathetic, frightened, selfish man -- so sick we would be tempted to pity him, if he were not so undeserving of pity.
A great tale about the darker side of human nature...
There are already a lot of reviews for this film and it's in the Top 250 list on IMDb, so I don't feel quite as much need to talk about his film in great depth--after all, it's all been pretty much said. This is an exceptional film for many reasons--most notably because it looks into the darker side of human nature--something you don't often see in films during this era.

The film begins in Mexico. Two Americans (Time Holt and Humphrey Bogart) are stranded there and haven't a peso between them. Their needs are few--they just want to get enough to buy a meal and find a place to flop. Through this first portion of the film, both men seem like decent enough sorts and the audience tends to empathize with them--even when they are involved in a vicious brawl with Barton MacLane--you feel the guy has it coming when the two give him a beating.

Later, however, their prospects change when they hit on the idea of hooking up with an old coot (Walter Huston) who seems to know a lot about gold mining. The three take off for the Mexican wilderness--and much like the story "Heart of Darkness", the good and bad within them is slowly revealed--all brought about by greed.

What I particularly liked about this film is what a great professional Humphrey Bogart was. His character was extremely flawed and later in the film he was very easy to hate. Many stars of the day probably wouldn't have accepted this less role of a less than honorable man. Nor, I think, they would have been so willing to play a guy who wasn't all that macho.

Apart from Bogart, the acting all around was very good, the script exciting and insightful and the direction just dandy. One of the best films of the era.
Bogart outstanding in this classic film
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" won Oscars for best director (John Huston), best supporting actor (Walter Huston) and best screenplay (John Huston). The film was also nominated for best picture but unfortunately lost out to Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet". This was yet another remarkable performance by Humphrey Bogart in a difficult role and proves once again what an outstanding actor he could be when given the right material.

This was a superlative performance by Humphrey Bogart - one of his best - and completely different to his smooth portrayal of Rick in "Casablanca". His character of Fred C. Dobbs was shifty and devious verging on paranoia and madness. The film has now rightly become a classic and is much admired by "movie buffs".

Conclusion - An excellent film , One of Humphrey Bogart's best..
Bogie at his best!
There can be no doubt that as Fred C. Dobbs in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", Humphrey Bogart gives one of his very best performances, and is right up there with his playing in "The African Queen". The film relies so heavily on the acting of the three top stars, and they deliver with all the skill they possess. Walter Huston is absolutely brilliant as the old prospector, and Tim Holt certainly proved in this film that he should have been given many better roles than he received before and after this movie. John Huston's direction was spot on, and the musical score, along with the locations depicted, added a great deal to the mood and atmosphere of what was a brilliant movie. It has stood the test of time and can be seen time and again and enjoyed just as much as the first viewing.
"I know what gold does to men's souls."
The Treasure of Sierra Madre, is not only a stunningly visual treat, but also a story and script of depth and magnitude, set in old time Mexico.

As a Bogart fan, I found it at first, difficult to get past Bogart playing such a ragged and gritty character, once I did I realised him and his co stars - Walter Huston & Tim Holt were such a tenacious force in this 2.5 hour epic.

Sierra Madre feels fresh and could stand up well against anything put out today. I have not seen a film in recent years, with outstanding lines, powerfully delivered by Huston or with the conviction and honesty Holt does..with Bogart, all three characters are very different yet essential.

Do yourself a favor and go buy or rent this. It carries great moral and truth, in a story of rags to almost riches.

~Paul Browne.
"I know what gold does to men's souls."
The great movies never grow old, they age like fine wine. "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre" is such a film, a classic tale of corruption and greed that follows the trail of three would be prospectors, and ends as a rich morality tale reminding us that the best things in life after all, can't be bought, sold, stolen or given away.

For fans of old movies, the casting of the principals may not seem to work on paper, as Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston form as disparate a trio as ever to assemble on screen. The way the story brings them together is a minor act in itself, as the camera follows Fred C. Dobbs (Bogey) through the dusty streets of Tampico, Mexico, living on handouts and a dream. His chance meetings with Curtin (Holt) form a bond that sees the men through a rigorous work detail and a wild bar brawl against their smooth talking boss McCormick (Barton MacLane). When the time comes to move on, the pair seeks out the wisdom of an old codger who's been around the block and back a few times.

Though the most memorable line of the film involves 'steenkin' badges' uttered by Gold Hat bandit Alfonso Bedoya, the best lines belong to Howard (Huston), but you better be attentive and listen closely. As he shows Dobbs and Curtin how to wash sand for fine gold nuggets, he comes up with one himself - "You gotta know how to tickle it so she come out laughin'". Later, as Dobbs begins his descent into paranoia and begins talking to himself, Howard challenges him accordingly - "You got somethin' up your nose? Blow it out, it'll do you good."

In fact, Huston's a scene stealer more than once in the film. My favorite occurs when about midway through their trek into the mountains, Bogey's character is getting worn out and is ready to quit. It's then when Howard reveals they're actually in the middle of a workable vein, and he goes into a comical jig that's just plain fun to watch. Do they teach that in acting class?

However it's not just for comic relief that Howard is so important to the story. Watch his expression and knowing eyes when Dobbs and Curtin shake on their deal the very first time. Later, he's the moral center and conscience of the trio, figuring it's just as well to divvy up the gold as it's mined so each man can guard his own share. Bogey's character is the first to allow his greed to take over, while Curtin falls in right behind. The introduction of Cody (Bruce Bennett) offers yet another psychological angle for the film to explore, as the original partners debate whether to kill him, run him off or take him in. It's the only time we have a hint that Howard's character may have a dark side as well.

For his part, Bogart accomplishes a masterful turn as the down and out bum with dreams of glory, creating one of the great morally tragic figures in movies. Watching him wrestle his conscience after he shoots Curtin, then going doubly mad when Curtin's body is gone in the morning is Bogey at his best. That he meets his end ignominiously seems only proper as befitting his traitorous character, one who's willing to sell out anyone in his path.

I guess the true measure of the film's greatness is it's ability to hook the viewer in a way that makes you feel you're a participant in the adventure. Come on now, didn't you shudder with disbelief when the 'steenkin' badges' hombre trashed the bags with gold dust, figuring it was only sand to weigh down the hides on the burros? I'm glad Howard was allowed to put his own unique perspective on things as a desert wind storm blew away a hundred thousand dollar fortune. Remarking that theirs was a ten month old joke in the making, he philosophically offers - "The gold has gone back to where we found it", as if that was just the way it was meant to be.

For film trivia buffs, 'Treasure' is just that. Study the face of the young Mexican boy selling Dobbs a lottery ticket in an early scene. Doesn't it have an unusually uncanny resemblance to that of adult actor Robert Blake? Back then he was known as Bobby. And how about the white suited American who's constantly tapped for a handout by Bogey's character. That would have been Director John Huston in an uncredited appearance. Tim Holt's actor father Jack Holt also appeared uncredited as a flophouse bum in an early scene. Later the two would actually portray for the first time in the movies a father and son in the 1948 Western "The Arizona Ranger".
Just a great movie all around, but a very dark tale
This film is a sharp-edged study of the effects of greed on otherwise normal men, and one man in particular: Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs. Dobbs and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) are down and out and meet up with prospector Howard (Walter Huston). When Dobbs wins a lottery, he uses the proceeds to finance a trip for the three to central Mexico to search for gold.

The three have to deal with the lawlessness of central Mexico at the time - bandits were actually on the loose in that country killing anybody with stuff, and taking that stuff. The Federales were a violent solution to a violent problem - killing the bandits after a summary judgement and the bandits having dug their own graves. So our trio not only have to worry about bandits once they strike gold, they have to worry about the darkness of their own souls.

In the beginning, Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs is a decent guy who does not take advantage of others. Dobbs only takes his money from the guy that wouldn't pay and he does share his lottery ticket and is generous with his fellow miners, but as greed begins to take root in him, little by little we see his goodness eaten away. It's a great credit to the writing and Bogart's skills that this is done gradually and played out over time. Incidentally, that's director John Huston "staking him to a meal". One of the best director cameos ever (although Polanski in Chinatown is equally great)!

Dobbs overestimates himself and the fallibility of human nature. Walter Hustons character freely admits what gold could do to any of them including himself. Dobbs is sure it will never happen to him, but he's never had anything, so he's never faced temptation, and when he falls it's a long way down.

This may be Tim Holt's finest performance - it was probably his finest opportunity given he had spent years laboring as a B western star on the RKO lot. Walter Huston as the prospector, minus his dentures and plus a bunch of pounds and with holes in his clothes is not the debonair fellow you are used to seeing in film . If Mary Astor's character in Dodsworth could have thought this was the future appearance of the man she loved, would she have taken her gondola in the other direction? I guess we'll never know.

Highly recommended as one of the great character studies in which several characters get studied in detail.
Music score
Max Steiner score is excellent, particularly the guitars on the San Joaquin Valley bit as Tim Holt recalls his youth, and later when Walter Huston suggests that Tim go and visit Cody's widow.

But I really liked the Mexican music, mariachi and folk, in the beginning of the film.

I've tried for years to find/track down the mariachi music used in the background when Bogart gets out of the barber chair. Anyone have a clue to the name of this tune?

And the song that is played as Holt and Bogart enter the Oso Negro, the flop-house where they meet Walter Huston.
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