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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Year:
1948
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Action, Adventure, Western
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
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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Reviews
A Powerful Statement About The Power Of Greed
With its obvious warning about the consequences of greed, this film is surprisingly relevant today. True, we no longer suffer from the classic problem of "gold fever." Not many people go out free-lance prospecting anymore, but corporate greed is certainly much in the news and the economic collapse of late 2008 had at least partly at its root the problem of greed. This wonderful classic uses a more traditional setting, but manages to portray the same collapse of civilized behaviour and the problems that arise with simply looking out for Number 1. In this movie, that position is clearly held by Humphrey Bogart's Fred Dobbs, an American drifter in Mexico who hooks up with fellow drifter Curtin (Tim Holt) and "old-timer" Howard (Walter Huston). Together they decide to strike out into the mountains in search of gold, in spite of Howard's warnings about what riches can do to people - and gold they find.

The three characters each seem to represent a different aspect of human nature. Howard is past the age of being too concerned with wealth, and seems to treat this more as an adventure, Curtin is the honest one who wants to make sure that everyone gets treated fairly, and Dobbs is the one who catches "gold fever" and becomes increasingly greedy and unbalanced as he contemplates the wealth he can now posses. Bogart's portrayal of the man gradually losing his grip was brilliant, and of the movies I've seen him in I'd rank this near "Casablanca" as his best performance. Director John Huston made excellent use of the setting and developed the story nicely, with Dobbs and Curtin starting the movie as victims of dishonest greed, before having to deal with the temptation themselves. There's also some pretty good actions with local bandits. In the end, Dobbs' decision to give into greed robs them all of the wealth they thought would be theirs, and their reactions to their loss of everything were perfectly in character, Dobbs being murdered by the bandits, Curtin realizing that he really hasn't lost anything, while Howard, thanks to an encounter with some local Indians, discovers more than he could ever have hoped for if he had simply kept his gold.

An altogether wonderful couple of hours. 8/10
2009-10-30
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.
2013-08-10
"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.
2005-02-06
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.
2004-09-18
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.
2017-02-10
Gold Fever-Golden Age Classic
What more can be said about this great classic. Anyone who wants to be known as a classic film buff has to have seen this movie. The movie stars Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart in one of his most famous roles as Fred C Dobbs a down and out American on the bum in Mexico. Through chance he meets up with two other characters played by Tim Holt and Walter Houston and decide between them to take their chance on prospecting for gold. Walter Houston's character warns the other two of the potential for problems within the trio once gold is found and his warning is right on the mark. They have to overcome not only problems from within but from outsiders too, such as the Mexican bandits who cause havoc where ever they go. It is during an encounter with these bandits that we get one of Hollywood's most famous movie lines. Bogart's character asks a bandit to show him a badge if he is a Federale as the bandit claims. The bandit responds, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" This is a great movie from Hollywood's Golden Age.
2010-01-09
The seeds of mistrust are sown
IMDb Top 250: 71

Wow. After seeing The Maltese Falcon, an earlier Huston film, I was a little nervous going into this one because I hated The Maltese Falcon. I was in for a surprise: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is fantastic.

Two Americans in Mexico work with an aged prospector to find gold in the 20's. That's the short. They fight the elements, bandits, other Americans and even each other to try and make their fortune. This is a plot-focused film, a true adventure. But it steps beyond that: it becomes a character analysis, with themes of greed, betrayal, and suspicion: all in the desert of Mexico. It starts strong, ends strong, and is a bull the whole way through.

Like Sunset Blvd., a film from 1950, 'Treasure' is made during the transition period between 'old' and 'new' cinema. There are more cuts and the film feels more dynamic. The film is extraordinarily well made, and is visually fantastic being filmed on location in Mexico, a first. The imposing musical score is also great.

I think this is the best Humphrey Bogart film; both in his performance and the overall film. My view of him was turned upside down in this film. The Rick Blaine/ Philip Marlowe character is gone, replaced by a bearded, rugged, unclean bum who asks for money from tourists, and has a really, really creepy laugh. Dobbs. His development is incredible, showing his doubts and delusions without making us have to infer anything. The other two in the treasure hunting trio hold their own next to Dobbsy. Howard (Walter Huston) is an eccentric old-timer, and we are never quite sure what his agenda is, or if he even has one. Curtin (Tim Holt) is the straight man of the three, but is just as grey as them. Together there are three great performances of three great characters in a great scenario. Although I have to say the head bandit is a tad too comical.

The plot makes for a great film, treasure hunters in Mexico. There's great dialogue, scenery, fights (fistfights still from the old film era though), and suspense. This western noir has a great pace. There's a lot of character foreshadowing, and then it wraps up with a quietly brilliant ending, though it might not be so astounding today.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was much better than I could have expected- it's a strong, constantly engaging film. The plot is solid and well told, with developed ideas and characters. And a very, very memorable Humphrey Bogart. 8.9/10
2012-03-16
A film that manages to find hope in the human condition amidst the most brutal reality
Just saw this AGAIN on Turner Classic Movies (August 5, 2006). For me this is a "benchmark" movie, by which, I mean a movie that you see several times over your lifetime, and each time you draw something new.

What is for me, currently most revelatory, is the essential humanity of the Huston character. He is wise, yet is willing to constantly retest his wisdom. He knows all the answers, yet still keeps his eyes open, searching for some thing new.

What is worthwhile is to compare this film with Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch". So much of "The Wild Bunch" is derivative from "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre". Watch them back to back, and the commonalities will POP! A major strength of this film is its uncompromising realism. Nothing happens in this film that is not honest and plausible.

Also, seeing this movie would not be a bad idea for anyone seeking to invest in the stock market. The basic dynamics are pretty much the same.

This is a film that manages to find hope in the human condition amidst the most brutal reality.
2006-08-05
Unbeatable.
I wish I knew who B. Traven was. He wrote the novel this film is based on, and it's a good read. There are stories that he was a German. Maybe he was. The dialogue has little German touches in it. Traven surely lived in modest circumstances in Mexico, the details of run-down hotels being far too accurate to have been made up in a comfortable armchair.

But it's not really important. Huston and his cast and crew have turned the novel into a movie that is as good as anything likely to show up on the screen. It is in fact an astounding achievement. I can't even begin to list the moments that stamp themselves indelibely into one's memory, but I will mention one, just en passant, so to speak. After killing his partner and friend, Bogart lies down next to a fire and tries to go to sleep. He talks to himself about "conscience" and how it only bother you if you allow it to, and the fake, sulfurous fire blazes up higher and higher between the actor and the camera until he seems to be consumed by the flame.

Alfonso Bedoya. He made a few other movies but nothing resembling this one.

What lines he is given! "Aww, come on. Throw that old iron over here." "There's a good business for Jew." And the unforgettable "batches," which doesn't need repeating.

It is surely one of Huston's best films. A lesser director could have ruined the novel's plot. But Huston adds his own touches. Cody is killed, shot through the neck, and the old man reads a letter from his wife, retrieved from Cody's pocket. But -- he doesn't know how to read big words!

So Curtin takes the letter and reads it. It's not just a directorial flash in the pan, because the scene resonates at the end of the movie when Curtin rides off to meet Cody's wife in the blossom-blooming orchard. What I mean is that the letter-reading scene is there for a larger purpose than simply adding to our appreciation of the characters at that particular moment.

The fight with Pat in the cantina. Absolutely nothing happens the way it had always happened in previous movies. Huston stages it in a way that an artist would think of. In all movies before this one fights involved (1) a general melee in which no one wins or loses, or (2) one clip on the jaw and the guy is unconscious. Here, MacCormack, the heavy, done very nicely by Barton Maclaine, bashes one guy over the head with a bottle of booze and socks the other one. But somebody grabs his legs as he tries to walk out the door. More blows. Bodies slump to the floor and they have a hell of a time getting back up on their feet. More blows. Pat is finally beaten to the floor and he's not unconscious. "Okay. Enough, fellas. I'm beat. I can't see." Bogart and Tim Holt take only the money that is owing to them, and Curtin (Holt) comes up with, "Let's beat it before the law arrives." Before the law arrives. That's straight out of Traven's novel and is one of the reasons people believe he wasn't that familiar with the English language. Not that it doesn't fit -- because it does.

I could go on listing one scene after another that is simply outstanding but there isn't space enough to do it. I watched this repeatedly with my ten year old kid, Josh, who finally memorized almost every word of the script. I showed it in classes in psychology at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina as an almost flawless depiction of an ego defense mechanism called "projection." The Marines loved it. I loved it. My kid loved it. John Simon loved it. Rush Limbaugh loved it. Martha Stewart loved it. Napolean Bonaparte loved it. Moses loved it. Lenin loved it. St. Peter, when not attending the pearly gates, watches it on cable TV. (No commercials.) Everybody loves it -- and for good reasons.
2003-11-20
A truly fantastic and engaging movie
Why don't they make films like this anymore? Why can't we have character driven dramas and action/adventures with depth? Where have all the Bogies gone?

This is easily one of Bogart's best films (he did some of his best work under Huston) and gives him a chance to stretch his acting muscles a bit. While he starts off as the hard-bitten hero, he quickly (and convincingly) degenerates into psychosis and madness during the quest for gold. The supporting cast are especially fantastic (particularly Huston himself as the dude that Bogie keeps hitting up for money at the beginning of the film). Bobby Blake (of both Barretta and Lost Highway fame) has a small role as the young boy selling lottery tickets. And Bogie's co-conspirators are both plausible and dramatic.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an insightful look into human greed and into the human heart. Bogart plays out the evils of acquisitiveness to the hilt and kicks maximum a** while doing so. Any fan of Bogart, or simply of great film, should really see this movie.
2000-07-11
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