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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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John Huston's greatest film
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre remains my personal favorite John Huston film. The film flawlessly depicts how greed can drastically change a man, and that saying something and doing it are two completely different things. It is one film that can make you think about mankind and what we think is really important to us.

Bogart shines again, this time playing down and out drifter Fred C Dobbs. Dobbs and his fellow pal, Curtin (Tim Holt) are both roaming the streets of Tampico looking for work. The two get stiffed by a contractor that refused to pay them and go to a flophouse to get some sleep. It is there that they meet an old prospector. He tells them about gold in the hills and that he's looking for a few men to go up there with him to claim the fortune. Dobbs and Holt agree to accompany the old man (Walter Huston), and the trio set off. After arriving at the hill, they begin prospecting and soon have enough cash to last them a very long time. Soon though, Dobbs becomes very insecure and begins thinking that the other two are scheming to take his fortune. Dobbs, now clearly being controlled by greed, will even resort to murder to protect and gain more riches.

It is at this point where we see that it is too late for Dobbs, he is consumed by greed and is now a different man than the one we knew at the beginning of the movie.

There you have it. Those who thought that Bogart couldn't pull of playing a villain will be surprised... not only does he pull it off, he plays possibly his best role to date. John Huston gets the message across very clearly about the nature of man. The greatest film of his career.
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
Worth seeing over and over
This is one of those movies that attracts you to watch it no matter how many times you have seen. Humphrey Bogart is perfect in the role as a down and out American stuck in Mexico with no money. The dialogue in the movie is unique in that certain lines stay with you (i.e. "I don't have to show you any stinking badges" and " 3 times 35 is 105. I bet you 105 thousand dollars you go to sleep before I do" and "Reckon it's a bad sign when a guy starts talking to himself" and many more). Even though Bogie does steal all the money for himself, you kinda feel sorry for him when the bandits finally do him in.
Cinematic Beauty.
People today, know Hollywood only for their comic book flicks. Let me tell you, Hollywood is much deeper than what people think, it brings the character to life. This particular movie specially broke all the barriers. I ain't exaggerating. Treasure of Sierra Madre is an epitome of cinema. People of all ages have to put this one in their must-watch list ASAP. Out of the world performance by Sir Humphrey Bogart. Marvelous direction by John Huston. Who can come up with such a story during the 40's? I am 20, from India and I love retro Hollywood because that was when movies were "Movies" and there was natural acting. This movie has it all. A perfect blend of a what a movie has to be like.
Great psychological exploration, with a brilliant performance from Bogie!
There is a great deal to recommend THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE: the names in the cast, of course (including Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston); the writer/director (John Huston); the plot (three gold prospectors brave the land, bandits and one another to seek their fortune in the hills of Mexico); or simply word of mouth (it's one of the best-loved films of all time, and for good reason).

These are all wonderful reasons to catch the film. For myself, I find two in particular that stand out, the first of which is the wonderfully observed, carefully executed psychological journey on which the main character Fred Dobbs (Bogart) embarks when he and his buddy Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) decide to join old experienced gold-prospector Howard (Huston) on a new prospecting trip. The changes in his character are gradual but shocking, as he becomes increasingly more paranoid and suspicious of his partners. This is further complicated by the appearance on the scene of James Cody (Bruce Bennett), whose desperation to strike gold becomes clear following his death. But Dobbs becomes horrifyingly cold and unfeeling, even rejoicing when Howard is brought away to a Mexican village and leaves the 'goods' with himself and Curtin. The final denouement is painful to watch but true and not at all pat--in fact, it's a great Huston ending, realistic but also self-conscious, particularly at the end with Howard and Curtin realising that if they've lost anything, it's nothing compared to what Dobbs has lost. A good, simple message.

The other reason to watch this film is most certainly Bogart's lead performance. His lined, extraordinary face conveys emotion like few others can, and simply calls to the camera for attention. Little wonder that Huston loved working with Bogie so much--Bogie's face, creased in non-sinister joy, or twisted with crazed suspicion, is truly one for the camera. His work in this film is exceptional as well: we believe his descent into madness, just as we accept his rough but amiable pleasantness before he gets enticed by the prospect of striking it rich. We can't help being revulsed by the sea-change in the man, but we can't help feeling sorry for this man, so generous and friendly in the beginning, whose corruption through gold is so scary and complete. It's truly a fabulous performance.

So, for these two reasons and a host of others previously mentioned, THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE comes very highly recommended. It's a cracking film, suspenseful and funny with a great score as well. 8/10.
The treasure that this movie is
The Treasure of Sierra Madre is a reflection on some of the most basic human values. Greed for money, trust in friends, courage and loyalty, always helping the needy are some of themes that manifest themselves on the screen during different times. The acting is brilliant in this movie. Humphrey Bogart is spot on with his portrayal of an impecunious bloke, who wants an opportunity to make it big, and his transformation from that to a mistrusting, nefarious lunatic. Tim Holt and Walter Huston complement Bogart wonderfully and act as models of rectitude and self-righteousness. The bandits and the Indians put in captivating performances. The scene at the end ,when Holt and Huston's characters laugh at the game fate put them through just to set them off to the next chapters in their life where they can feel contented, served as a fitting end to an impressive movie by John Huston.
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 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.
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.
A dark tale of Greed !!!
'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' can be found in the Required Viewing list for Werner Herzog's 'Rogue Film School' programme. After having watched the film, I can completely understand why Herzog must have been influenced by this. The reason for that is the fact that this film has a very 'Heart of Darkness'-like feel to it and it explores themes that Herzog has time and again dealt with in his own films.

An important theme in the film is how nature can use darkly funny ways to undermine the audacious ambitions of humans who try to venture into uncharted territories, into the wilderness and conquer nature. The three men try to fight the forces of nature and persevere to get their treasure, but in the end they can't escape the mysterious ways of nature and nature ends up having the last say in the deciding the fate of the treasure. Another important theme is greed. The film might have the word 'treasure' in the title, but the treasure/gold in itself is really insignificant in the bigger picture. The film is about the changes that the lust for the treasure brings about in the characters, most particularly Dobbs. Being completely out in the open for months and being completely enveloped by the paranoia brought on by his greed, Dobbs slowly and gradually becomes a paranoid, heartless monster over the course of the film. One can easily see a bit of Dobbs in Herzog's 'Aguirre'. The original book by B. Traven as well as the film by John Huston undoubtedly offer a commentary on reckless capitalism and the underlying greed which fuels such tendencies.

Huston's script retains the catchy, sharp dialogue that can be found in his other films. However the film lives and dies by Huston's direction. The cinematography is fantastic. Although the camera-work and camera movements remain somewhat standard during the initial moments, but once things start falling apart and the greed fueled paranoia and lunacy start to envelope the characters(mainly Dobbs), Huston also simultaneously cranks up the frenetic nature of the camera movements and the intensity with which certain scenes get staged to complement the transition in tone. There is a grittiness to the film that I genuinely liked. There is a very poignant use of close-ups in this film to underline changing emotions in the characters. One of my favourite moments in the film involves Curtin's character caught up in a crucial moment of moral dilemma when he has to choose between doing the right thing, and doing the selfish thing. It is a wordless moment of brilliance.

Bogart is brilliant as Dobbs. This is a character that gradually loses his mind and I believed that transition completely. His intensity towards the last act of the film made the character in equal measures pathetic, as well as scary. Walter Huston and Tim Holt deserve a lot of admiration for their respective performances too.

With a name like 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', one could expect to get a film about the thrills of the adventure in the journey to the treasure ending with the protagonists finding the elusive 'treasure'. But this film subverts expectations and offers a terrific exploration of human greed and nature's indifference to such greed. It's a great film that is easily worth recommending.
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