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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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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.
One of the best acted movies ever....
I first saw this gem when in high school, with two other buddies. It was showing at a local college for free, so being three geeks with nothing else to do, off we went...what we saw, was a movie riddled with scenes that never ever leave you, ever!! Funny, that one of my buddies last name happened to be Curtin (like the Tim Holt character), so for weeks afterward's, whenever the other amigo and myself would run into him, we would just have to yell.."Couiten!....Couiten!!....COUITEN!!!!!" a la the unforgettable scene where Bogart is in a panic, trying to find the erstwhile Tim Holt.

Another favorite scene is when Tim Holt, who turned in a very believable, professional performance, sees the Gila monster go under a rock, which just happens to be the hiding place of Bogarts share of the gold. Holt starts to turn the rock over when Bogart sees him and thinks he is stealing his booty. While holding a gun on Holt, and calling him a liar and a thief, Bogart starts to nervously reach under the rock, and Holt says.."Go ahead Dobbs, I want to see this!...they never let go do they Howard? Even if you cut'em in half, they hang on till sundown. But it doesn't matter much to the victim, cause he's already dead...." Just a great scene! Suspense to the max!

And something about the scene where the uninvited prospector is killed by bandits, and Holt along with Huston, reads aloud, a letter from his wife they find in his wallet. To see these three, hard bitten men, who only minutes prior were planning to kill this man to protect their secret, now saddened by his death, and clearly moved by the letter, is so poignant, and unexpected, it, along with the music, can move one to tears.

I could go on, but those who have seen it know what it is I'm trying to say, and those who haven't....just see it! Walter Huston is worth the effort, to see what a real actor is. For you kids who have heard the "No stinkin badges" line, and are brave enough to watch a black and white movie, yes, this is where it came from....
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.
Probably Bogart's best performance in one of Huston's best
John Huston made a lot of good films in his career-"The Asphalt Jungle", "Moby Dick", "Key Largo", "Beat the Devil"-but this film is one of his best, a masterpiece that stands above (along with "The Maltese Falcon" and "The African Queen") not only his other work but also other movies in general. Telling the story of three men who go into the mountains of Mexico for gold and finding greed and madness instead, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is an brilliant character study that shows Humphrey Bogart's character, Fred C. Dobbs (one of THE famous characters in film history) turn from a ragged, homeless loser into a paranoid monster. Very grim considering the time it was made, "Treasure" is a very mature take (much like "The Asphalt Jungle") on the subject of pathetic people with hopeless, desperate dreams. Walter Huston deservedly won an oscar for his portrayal of Howard, an old coot who is revealed to be smarter and wiser than he appears. His speech about what "gold does to men's souls" is haunting when taken into context. Tim Holt is also strong as Bob Curtin, the young man who hooks up with Dobbs and ends up almost losing his life for it. Come to think of it, there are no slackers in this cast. But, inevitably, it is Bogart who stands above the rest, even oscar-winning Huston. His performance is on another level, watching his transformation is a mesmerizing experience. On the AFI 100 Greatest Movies special, Mel Brooks says Bogart's performance is "beyond Oscars". Well, apparently it is because Bogart didn't even get nominated for this film. When viewing the film you realize just how criminal this exclusion was. The layers Bogart puts on as this character go beyond simple portrayal. Bogart is nuanced in a way that when Dobbs threatens Curtin, he is simultaneously scary and tragic. There is a scene where he grabs Curtin and points a gun at his face, and as you look at Bogart's dirty, unshaven face in the intense firelight you don't see a man, you see the embodiment of mad, the personification of insanity. Huston obviously also had the "genius" switch on for knowing how to frame this movie, how to make the interactions between characters seem so real and original when the subject of the film is something so universal and common as greed. But the strength of Bogart is what makes this film reverberate with meaning and power. He is the engine to this vehicle, and everyone else seems to play off him. No one else can be Fred C. Dobbs. No one else can be Humphrey Bogart. 10/10
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.
A well done story with a valuable lesson
This 1948 classic is one of Humphrey Bogart's best-known films. Based on the novel by B. Traven, it tells the story of three men who go on an expedition in search of gold and discover that high hopes often lead to "changes in character" as I would word it.

Of course, stories about looking for gold are nothing new, nor do I think they were in those days. But this movie is probably one of the better examples. The great John Huston won an Academy Award as Best Director. It is his eighth movie and one of his best. Bogart is fine as Fred C. Dobbs, the man whose greed eventually conquers him. Tim Holt gives a strong performance as his partner, Curtin. But these two men are easily upstaged by Walter Huston, the director's father. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Howard, the old grizzled prospector who is always leaving his comrades in the dust when they trudge through the mountains. This must have been the definitive year for him and his son, being that they shared fame on Oscar night.

Rounding out the cast are the under-appreciated Bruce Bennett as the man who tries to join the expedition, only to be killed in the attempt, Barton MacLane as Bogart's and Holt's dishonest boss, and Alfonso Bedoya as the leader of the Mexican bandits (the one who wears the golden hat).Fourteen year old Robert Blake appears as a Mexican boy selling lottery tickets and- surprise surprise- Huston (John Huston I mean) as a man in a white suit who is fed up with Bogart's begging for money.

The lesson this movie teaches us is: greed does not pay. I'm sure we're all aware of that, but this movie really depicts the consequences people often have to pay for their greed. It's not something to ignore. I think this is one of the best examples of that plain fact. I recommend you check this movie out.

Famous line: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" (Gold Hat)
"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".
One of the best of All Time
This is personally my favorite movie. It was kind of updated to be "A Simple Plan" by Sam Raimi so if you liked that one you will definitely enjoy this movie. Excellent picture, good all around movie. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Houston star and John Houston directs. One of my personal top 100 films. It is a classic in every sense of the word.
An Environmental Message?
No need to repeat plot or consensus points. As a boy, I saw the movie on first release. What's really stayed with me over time is Gold Hat's sudden reflection in the mud puddle a prostrate Dobbs is sucking from. The suddeness startled me in a way that's lasted 70-years. On geezer viewing, I note the apparition is also a moment of great irony— it's water that sustains the thief while escaping with his loot; at the same time, his doom is cast upon the water from the sky above. In Dobbs' case, it's the life-saving fluid that both sustains and forebodes. But then it's his lust for gold that's left the penniless man alone and isolated. In a sense, the stolen gold dust in the saddlebags is striking back in the form of a golden hat. Then too that same dust was stolen from its mountain home. But now it will be borne through the air back to its womb in the Sierra Madre. Between the symbolism and Howard's concern for a torn mountain, there may be a subtle environmental message from this, one of the best adventure films of all time.
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