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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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Bogart and Huston don't need no stinkin badges
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Two Americans, played by Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt, are reduced to panhandling in 1920's Mexico, meet up with an old prospector and decide to join together and search for gold. They eventually find gold, but must battle bandits, Mother Nature, and themselves in order to keep it. Bogart's character begins to lose both his trust and his sanity, lusting to possess the entire treasure. Holt's charter Dobbs is also unreasonably afraid that he will be killed by his partners. Huston wins the Academy Award for his portrayal of the steadying force that knows a lot about gold mining and even more about human nature.

This is a landmark motion picture. Warner Brothers studio head Jack L. Warner stated that it was "definitely the greatest motion picture we have ever made." The American Film Institute ranked this as the #38 Greatest Movie of All Time in their 1997 poll. In 1948 it was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture, but was beat by Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. While Olivier is considered one of history's greatest actors, and Hamlet is among Shakespeare's finest, Treasure of the Sierra Madre has gone on to surpass Olivier's Hamlet to now be considered to be one of the greatest of all movies. Treasure of the Sierra Madre would win the Oscar for John Huston for Direction and Screen writing, and for his father Walter for best supporting role.

While I can see how Laurence Olivier won the Oscar for Hamlet in 1948, I have a hard time understanding how Bogart didn't even warrant a nomination. Bogart's performance still stands as one of the signposts that would point the direction that modern acting would follow. Bogart is sublimely adept at moving between being an affable down on his luck drifting panhandler to a dangerously vicious man consumed by greed. Bogart's plays the early scenes as Fred C. Dobbs by showing benevolence, and he is supportive and encouraging by helping stake the others by putting up a larger amount of money, and speaks in a level headed manner at their plight in the world. Dobbs is consumed by avaricious thoughts, and a big red flag appears when he demands that they divide their gains three ways, every night. Soon they are each hiding their loot, with Bogart becoming increasingly paranoid that the others are going to take his gold, as he progressively loses his sanity. Bogart is more than willing to play the despicable mean spirited role of Fred C. Dobbs. Bogart didn't become a star being a pretty face, and his role here is more ammunition that he is still considered as one of film history's greatest actors. Bogart is fearless in portraying Fred C. Dobb as a selfish, pathetic sick man, equal parts freighted and frightening. His leering paranoia is a wonder, and as he grows increasingly surly, watching Bogart is a treat, probably a little too malevolent for some members of his 1948 audience.

The performance by Walter Huston is a masterpiece. It is joyful to watch, and a true film buff will be easily beaming with satisfaction that they are witness to greatness, as Huston breathes life into the old prospector. He bestows the old prospector with unbridled excitement by dancing in a way that would be copied countless times by other similar characters, especially old grizzled character actors in Westerns. Walter Huston's old timer Howard has a knowing twinkle in his eye; he knows the ins and outs of prospecting for gold, from the equipment to the best site that would yield a rich bounty. The Howard character knows human nature, and still goes along for the ride even though he is already well aware of what is about to unfold in the hearts of his companions. Walter Huston is flawless in this role. His maniacal laugh when the turn of events is brought to his attention is bombastic, but in keeping with his understanding of his partners psyche, not much seems to surprise the wise old man, he knew this would happen.

John Huston stated that working on this film with his father, and his dad's subsequent Oscar win were among the favorite moments of his life. Upon winning the award Walter responded: "Many years ago.... Many, MANY years ago, I brought up a boy, and I said to him, 'Son, if you ever become a writer, try to write a good part for your old man sometime.' Well, by cracky, that's what he did!" It is s crying shame that Walter would die two years later. On seeing the quality of Walter Huston's performance, Bogart famously stated that "One Huston is bad enough, but two are murder." A finer homage couldn't have been bestowed one of the greatest family contributions to a film. It should also be noted that the other actors did a fine job. Tim Holt is more than serviceable having the unenviable task of trying to keep up with Huston and Bogart. Holt is believable as the third of the prospecting amigos, and needs to do little else than provide support here. The Mexican Bandits are a special treat, and leave the audience wanting more. The bandit in the gold hat seems to be an offish simpleton, until he snarls one of Hollywood's most famous quotes: "Badges? We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." The quote is iconic, being film histories #36 ranked quote according to the American Film Institute. The lasting appeal of these bandits and their infamous quote has passed into the lexicon of movie buffs, as well as into pop culture consciousness.

Bottom Line: I would give this film a 95. It is a solid A, and a 95 is indeed indicative of its worthiness as one of films great achievements. It's a fantastic joy to watch the acting, as both Bogart and Walter Huston provide legendary performances.
Well concluded movie
Dobbs and Curtin are two guys that are desperate from living on streets and after meeting Howard they decide to go on gold searching journey which will bring a lot to table. All three of them went there with hopes to find anything that will give them some kind of life but after realizing how much they could get Dobbs starts to change attitude towards them leaving with quantity of gold they have. Dobbs slowly but surely starts to lose himself in so much gold that starts to eat him and now his mistrust is pointed into everybody. After encountering Cody, there arrives trouble with bandits and now they are face to face and trying to survive. Cody ends up dead and bandits running away from Federals and now three companions decide to leave. One night they come in touch with indios that seek help for their kid and Howard decides to help them and tomorrow they are going away but villagers are determined that Howard stays and enjoys with them leaving Dobbs and Curtin to carry his gold. Dobbs finally lost it and in his madness he shots Curtin taking all gold and hoping to leave with everything. Dobbs soon after gets caught recognized by bandits which led to his death and Curtin was found by indios so now they are leaving to find Dobbs. Their discovery shocked them but it had a great sarcastic ending. It was a great journey and adventure but sometimes movie feels to slow and to long but it had a a great point of view on humans. There were some great and intense moments alongside with a great script by John Huston. All three men Bogart (Dobbs), Holt (Curtin) and Walter Huston were great in the movie giving three different portrayals of men but original. 9.4/10
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.
Truly something special
This film made a huge impression on me when I first saw it at the age of 15 or 16. A recent rewatching on DVD really served to bring home for me what makes this film so special.

The whole thing is quite good, but it really hits you when Howard goes off to celebrate with the Indians, leaving Dobbs and Curtin to care for his gold and burros. The ensuing scenes of their spiraling mistrust and tension are absolutely spellbinding--the kind of thing that makes you lean forward in your seat just to get your eyes a little closer to the raw humanity unfolding in front of you. Their paranoia, the way you can SEE scenarios of betrayal dancing in their eyes, Dobbs' burgeoning madness--these are the moments that make this film one for the ages.

At its best, film noir (which this most certainly is--Western surroundings or no) makes the viewer complicit in the evil depicted on screen. We find ourselves scheming and plotting in our heads along with the unsavory characters we are watching--we start to feel the same temptations and desires that they do. "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" accomplishes this bond with the audience as well as any film you are likely to see.

A magnificent film--one of the few great screen tragedies.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
John Huston's 1948 treasure-hunt classic stars Humphrey Bogart, as Fred C. Dobbs, a down-and-out wage-worker in Mexico who stakes his meager earnings on a gold-prospecting expedition to the Sierra mountains.

He's soon joined by a grizzled old prospector, named Howard ( Walter Huston, the director's father) and a young, no-nonsense partner, Curtin (Tim Holt), and when they strike a rich vein of gold, the movie becomes an observant study of human behavior.

At its heart the film is really just a superior morality play and one of the best movie treatments of the corrosiveness of greed. For instance, the film easily contrasts the characters: Huston's character, has been through it all before. Curtin is the more naive of the bunch and Dobbs' grows increasingly paranoid and violent over the length of the film: the way you see his burgeoning madness unravel-are the moments that make this film so great.

The film also has one hell of an ironic ending.

The performances are another thing that really make this film a real classic. Bogart was playing against type, he was not playing his usual romanticized character and he delivers quite possibly the best performance of his entire career.

But, it is Walter Huston, who literally steals the entire film, he is a weathered man, who's seen how gold can turn men into monsters. That laugh of his is a laugh for the ages. And that gig he does when they discover the gold. Brilliant.

Another great performance comes from Alphonso Bedoya, as the Mexican bandit leader, with his line of "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" Another cool thing about the film, was some of the cameos throughout the film. Robert Blake as a boy selling lottery tickets, Ann Sheridan as a prostitute, and non-other than John Huston himself as the ' man in white', the rich man who Dobbs' keeps pestering for money.
A great film with a supberb cast
A great film with a supberb cast. The film focuses on two drifters who meet up with another man who has lived his life searching for gold. After being down on there luck for two long Dobbs and Curtin decide to invite Howard to guide them through a gold mining process. Greed begins to set in when the pile grows higher. Wonderful to watch. A must see.
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's Best Work, A Fantastic Flick
Humphrey Bogart's journey as a leading man started with The Maltese Falcon and reached its pinnacle in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. That's not just because his performance was so terrific. What's impressive is that Bogie goes from an ultra-cool detective in Falcon and a noble Nazi-killer in Casablanca to a crazy loser in Sierra Madre. He didn't coast by playing lovable heroes. He was willing to look terrible and to play a despicable human being in a character-actor kind of way.

Fred C. Dobbs (Bogart) is a jobless American in Tampico, Mexico, begging for food money. He pools what money he has with that of a friend (Tim Holt as Bob Curtin) and they head out with Howard (Walter Huston) for the titular mountain to find gold. Howard has been on many such journeys and knows this isn't going to turn out well. It doesn't take more than few months for Dobbs' paranoia to cloud his vision. Before long, he's hiding his gold and proving he'll do anything to protect his burgeoning fortune.

Don't worry, "Badges? I don't have to show you any steenking badges", I haven't forgotten about you! Yup, this is the movie with that quote. People love (mis)quoting the line, but they shouldn't overlook the subtext: there's no law up in the wild Mexican mountains. Then again, the real villain is not a gang of baddies. It's Bogie. Dobbs' alienation of his friends not only proves how paranoid he is, but in doing so, he puts his gold and his life in serious danger from steenking bandits.

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre was highly ranked on both the 1998 and 2007 Top 100 lists released by the American Film Institute...and rightly so. It's nearly 66 years old and it holds up remarkably well. Writer/director John Huston made several fine films, but this was his peak. It's one of the best pictures of the 1940s and its dirty influence continues to this day, with Paul Thomas Anderson and Breaking Bad's exec producer Vince Gilligan citing it as highly influential of their recent projects. This one is rough, but for all the right reasons. Great, great movie.

If you found some gold in this quick take of the flick, check out the website I share with my wife (www.top100project.com) and go to the "Podcasts" section for our 38-minute Treasure Of The Sierra Madre 'cast...and many others. Or find us on Itunes under "The Top 100 Project".
What a letdown.
They say a great film stands the test of time. I totally agree with that statement and this one was just one of those films till the last 20 minutes. Such a dramatic buildup with no payoff in the end. So Dobbs gets his just due and Howard and Curtain lose the gold they worked so hard to obtain. They laugh about it when they realize they lost all their riches?? I guess Howard doesn't care since he's made to be a playboy by the Mexican people. And Curtain just accepts he's alive and he'll just strike it rich somewhere else. Guess people think this movie is great since Bogart's in it. He is one of the greatest actors ever but this film but feels like the screenwriter couldn't come up with a good ending so he just ended it. What a letdown!
A Superior Study of Greed: An All-Time Classic
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 is long over, as our story commences in Tampico, Mexico in 1925. Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), a scruffy, unshaven American drifter, spends some of his last handout on a lottery ticket sold by a persistent Mexican boy. Meanwhile he is able to latch onto a backbreaking oil-rigging job. Dobbs teams up with Curtin (Tim Holt), another American drifter, after they get cheated out of their hard-earned wages by their shaky boss Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane). The two transients catch up with McCormick and get their money after giving the swindler a well-deserved beating. While staying in "El Oso Negro" flophouse Dobbs and Curtin meet up with Howard (Walter Huston), a wiry and tooth deficient old man who talks about prospecting for gold. Says Howard: "Gold in Mexico? Why sure there is. Not ten days from here by rail and pack train there's a mountain waiting' for the right guy to come along . . ." Howard though, grizzled but wise, warns the others that gold does make one ravenous, makes one want more and more. Dobbs says, "It wouldn't be that way with me. I swear it wouldn't. I'd take only what I set out to get ($5,000), even if there was still a half a million dollars worth lying around waiting' to be picked up." Right after Dobbs is told by the Mexican boy that he holds the wining lottery ticket (200 pesos). Dobbs gives the boy his ten percent cut. Stricken with gold fever, the three then pool their resources to buy provisions and mining materials; Dobbs has provided the larger share. The adventurers then head for the Sierra Madre Mountains to search for gold ore.

After hard work they strike it rich. The gold accumulates, but Dobbs cannot adjust to his new wealth as his paranoia begins to manifest itself. He becomes insistent that the three prospectors begin to split their gold three ways. Also, instead of being content with his $25,000 share of the gold, he demands that they continue mining for more. Eventually the total treasure amounts to $100,000. Following the men's campsite from town is an American, Cody (Bruce Bennett), who wants to be part of the small group; he refuses to leave the camp. Weighing their options, the three decide to kill the stranger, but before acting out they are approached by a gang of Mexican bandits, led by Gold Hat (Alfonso Bedoya). Previously Gold Hat was unsuccessful in attempting to hold up the Tampico-Durango train that the prospectors were riding; their bullets helped repel the bandidos. In an exciting shootout at the camp, the bandits sustain additional losses and are again driven off, but Cody is killed.

Resuming their trip to Durango, the trio is approached by some local Indians who ask for help in saving the life of a young boy who nearly drowned and remains unconscious. Howard goes along with the Indians; his artificial respiration and wiles indeed revive the boy. Meanwhile Dobbs and Curtin move ahead and plan on meeting with Howard in town. Without Howard's wisdom, the camaraderie breaks down because of Dobbs increasing mistrust: he believes that Curtin wants the gold for himself. This happens despite the fact that both Howard and Curtin had helped save Dobb's life on different occasions earlier. Curtin is just trying to hold on while Dobbs, already corrupted, becomes devoured by greed. His self-indulgence turns to madness as he begins to hear noises in the night. Alone as he staggers under the sweltering desert sun, he becomes desperate for a precious drink of water. Feverishly gulping precious liquid at a muddy water hole, Dobbs doesn't notice the ominous shadow of Gold Hat creeping up behind him. Dobbs is truly the tragic performer brought down precisely by his flaws.

The ending is truly ironic with gold blowing back into the hills of its origin while we hear the echoing laughter of Howard. Because of his good deed, he will be cared for life by his new Indian friends. Yes, he was certainly the prudent old man, and even more inexplicably, will never have need of the lost gold. Set for life, he generously gives Curtin the proceeds of the sale of the burros, tools, and hides. Maybe Curtin even finds traces of the gold dust around the equipment.

Carefully observe that scene near the end, after Hobbs is murdered. Gold Hat and the two survivors of his gang go into town to sell Dobbs' burrows and "hides." After someone spots a special brand on one of the animals, a boy notifies the Federales while people in the marketplace stall and surround the thieves. The robbers are quickly rounded up and turned over to the police who summarily execute them on the spot. Note that the entire dialogue is in Spanish, but is so well filmed that we know exactly what is going on. No English need be spoken. John Houston has told his story visually, a high art form.

Shooting entirely on location, Huston won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Director, while his father Walter won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The feature was nominated for the Oscar for Best Film, but lost out to Hamlet. Huston shows superb character development, especially in the transformation of Dobbs. Before our eyes, Dobbs has changed from a fairly reasonable fellow into a nervous paranoid, and finally into an insanely avaricious madman capable of killing his friend. Note that glint in his eyes while Howard weighs out the gold and again when he lies down next to the campfire determined to stay awake. By the way, that is a very young Robert Blake as the Mexican boy who sells lottery tickets in the beginning.
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