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Overall Rating
4.58

Awesome80.77%
Worth A Look: 11.54%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 7.69%

1 review, 20 user ratings


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Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Gold."
5 stars

Nasty thing, greed. It's in every one of us, lying dormant while we have nothing, waiting for us to get a taste of prosperity before flaming up and convincing us that it's not enough. That's "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" in a nutshell, and few if any have played that theme as well as director John Huston and his cast.

As the film starts, we see Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) homeless in Tampico, Mexico, begging money off American tourists. After hitting the same American up for money three or four times, he's directed to Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane), who's offering work. There he meets Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), and after they convince McCormick to actually pay them rather than running off, they meet an old-timer named Howard (Walter Huston), who convinces them to re-invest their earnings in a gold-mining venture. It's hard, at first, but that difficulty is nothing compared to what happens when the mine pans out, and each is worrying about the others coming after his hoard.

Few of Humphrey Bogart's most memorable roles are steadfast heroes, and his characters don't get much scuzzier than Fred Dobbs. We get hints of what's to come when we first meet him, as we see him push his luck panhandling, but we can chalk that up to desperation to simply survive. Later on we we see his a hard worker when he gets the chance, but we don't see Bogart's best work until Dobbs has his gold and will be rich no matter what. Then we see him crazed with gold fever, twitching, looking at his friend like he expects to be killed at any moment. It's the type of manic performance that can make a lesser actor look like, well, a lesser actor, but Bogart's tense body language and facial expressions that can jump from calm to crazed to conniving sell it.

And Bogart isn't even necessarily the performance people remember from this movie; that honor likely goes to director John Huston's father Walter. He makes Howard a lovable old coot whose acquisition of wisdom with age just means he can see his future screw-ups coming. He knows that he'll blow his gold on women and booze and probably end up right where he started, and he sees his partners' paranoia as an inevitability. He talks like a rube and dances funny jigs, but there's never any doubt that he knows the score. Indeed, the audience will spend a lot of time wondering if he's playing his younger partners against each other. Mostly, he makes relating hard-won knowledge sound like a reminder of something any fool should know, and gains the audience's respect without ever distancing himself from them.

The rest of the cast is pretty good, too, although it's tough to outshine Bogart and Huston Sr. on-screen. Tim Holt doesn't get to go enthusiastically insane like Bogart as the other partner; he's got the unenviable task of being the most apparently level-headed one in the group, a couple steps behind Dobbs in terms of the gold fever. Bruce Bennet appears midway through the film as James Cody, a young guy who stumbles upon the camp, and thus increases the tension between the secretive miners. And, of course, there's Alfonso Bedoya, whose character leads a crew of banditos who menace Dobbs and company in the last act. He essays his part broadly but with genuine menace. His most famous line ("Badges? We ain't got no badges...") has become a target of many bad puns over the years, but Bedoya sells it with venom.

John Huston writes and directs, working from a novel by reclusive expatriate B. Traven (rumored to have been on-set as a technical advisor under a pseudonym). The movie divides into clear chapters - Dobbs begging, the building job, mining, bandits, etc. - connected by the characters' growing distrust. Huston is able to choose shots that emphasize the world closing in around the party even while shooting outdoors, on location in Mexico; it's either night, or there's a mountain rising sharply to cut off part of the sky, or the like. He's got no trouble making things progressively more grim, or pushing Dobbs further and further from being redeemable.

Which is as it should be. Stories of human greed seldom have happy endings, and the bitter, violent conclusion of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is just what it should be.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4611&reviewer=371
originally posted: 02/23/06 12:31:38
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User Comments

3/31/16 Aj wales Interesting movie. Actors had character then imagine the casting today. 5 stars
4/13/15 jokerass lol 1 stars
5/11/10 George What a depressing movie. 1 stars
9/02/09 good fella Hard to fathom bogie wins oscar 4 african queen & not even nominated for this 5 stars
9/19/08 PAUL SHORTT ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S MOST RESONANT MORALITY TALES 5 stars
7/27/08 George Barksdale Love this movie, one of the best 5 stars
4/10/08 Duke of Omnium Casting and direction is about as good as it ever got 5 stars
12/20/07 Pamela White money can come and go 4 stars
6/08/07 John G I never tire of viewing this great great movie 5 stars
4/14/07 fools♫gold Fell in love with it even more than "The Big Sleep". 5 stars
2/26/06 The Grinch Excellent film, John Huston was the man! 5 stars
2/23/06 omar awesome movie, one of bogie's best 4 stars
7/06/05 John MacKendrick Bogart goes slowly psycho. Intense and wonderful. 5 stars
11/14/04 psycho black dwarf Moral is: if greedy muthafuckas comin after you, drop it like it's hot, or get ya ass shot 5 stars
10/28/02 Charles Tatum Bogie was so cool 5 stars
9/11/02 y2mckay The hip-hop remake would say "We don't need no muthafuckin' badges ya punkass BEOTCH!" 4 stars
8/22/02 Bluto GREAT, good ending, great cast. Bogie and Walter huston were great. 5 stars
12/09/00 koinshaku Source of a great misquote. 5 stars
11/19/00 merlotguy badges....we don't need no stinking badges 5 stars
11/18/00 R.W. Welch Gritty, ironic commentary on greed 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Jan-1948 (NR)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  John Huston

Written by
  John Huston

Cast
  Humphrey Bogart
  Walter Huston
  Tim Holt
  Bruce Bennett
  Barton MacLane
  Alfonso Bedoya



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