Author Topic: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)  (Read 2274 times)

Offline Antares

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« on: December 17, 2009, 12:29:10 AM »
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre





Year: 1948
Film Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, First National Pictures
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Length: 126 Min.

Director
John Huston (1906)

Writing
John Huston (1906)...Screenplay
B. Traven (1882)...Novel

Producer
Henry Blanke (1901)
Jack L. Warner (1892)

Cinematographer
Ted D. McCord (1900)

Music
Max Steiner (1888)...Music By

Stars
Humphrey Bogart (1899) as Dobbs
Walter Huston (1884) as Howard
Tim Holt (1918) as Curtin
Bruce Bennett (1906) as Cody
Barton MacLane (1902) as McCormick
Alfonso Bedoya (1904) as Gold Hat
Arturo Soto Rangel (1882) as Presidente
Manuel Dondé as El Jefe

Review
       The film Casablanca may have made Humphrey Bogart a star but to me his role as Fred C. Dobbs, the down on his luck drifter who agrees to go in search of gold in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is his greatest performance. In this one role we get to witness the versatility of his acting prowess as he portrays Dobbs as a troubled individual with a chameleon personality whose mood and mannerisms change like the wind. One moment he is in good cheer as he recounts for his partners how finding gold will not change him personally and the next he is a rambling, quivering mass of paranoia as he believes everyone is out to rob him blind. Bogart walks this fine line with the agility of a skilled tightrope walker, never going so far as to make his character appear a caricature.

       This would be the second time that Bogart worked with director John Huston, and the arrangement must have suited Bogart well as they would make two more classic films together with Key Largo & The African Queen. Co-starring with Bogart would be Huston’s father Walter, a veteran actor of the twenties and thirties, who would be rewarded with a Best Supporting Oscar for his role as the old man. It is in this character of the grizzled old prospector that director Huston centers the ensemble cast around. As a weathered old hand who has been on many expeditions to find the precious, but mostly elusive metal, he has laid witness to all sorts of men, each with different personalities, yet who all become mistrustful monsters of greed. As the prospecting party is sitting around a campfire discussing the visions of grandeur that the gold they discover will bring them, he warns them that he has seen what a divisive force a little dust can whip up. His partners will not here of it, as they consider themselves above the pettiness and paranoia of the common man. But old Walter knows better, and he sets off to sleep that night with an uneasy sense of what is about to happen to these novice prospectors.

       True to form, the old man’s predictions come true as Dobbs slowly starts to see conspiracies at every turn, once each man’s quota of gold dust increases. Soon he begins sleeping with his revolver and moving his precious cargo intermittently to keep his partners from stealing it. When one member of the prospecting party inadvertently stumbles upon one of his hiding spots in pursuit of a rattlesnake, Dobbs’ greed induced schizophrenia goes full throttle as he accuses the man of spying on him to find where he hid his gold. When Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) mentions the rattlesnake, Dobbs will hear none of it, as the inner demon that is building inside him begins to gain strength.

       Bogart’s portrayal of the downwardly spiraling drifter is dead on, and when it finally comes to the point in the film where he meets his maker, we are not left with a sense of pity. The consumptive forces of greed and paranoia are what did him in and it was of his own making. It’s hard to believe that Bogart was not rewarded for this career defining performance with an Academy Award. It would be another four years before that honor would be bestowed upon him for his role in The African Queen. Yet, one upshot of his role in this film would be the laying of groundwork for his portrayal of another paranoid and delusional character in The Caine Mutiny, Captain Queeg.  

       If you are un-familiar with the film history of Humphrey Bogart, most people will tell you start by watching Casablanca. While they are right about the iconic stature of his role as Rick Blaine, portraying Fred C. Dobbs will someday become his thespian legacy. I tend to cringe when I find myself using an overworked and maudlin cliché like ‘A Must See Film’, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is all that and more. It could arguably be placed in the top ten films of all time.


Ratings Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 06:40:48 PM by Antares »

Offline Jon

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2009, 12:47:18 AM »
Wonderful film! And such a coincidence. Earlier in another thread, we were talking about censorship and I said I agreed with the theory if not the practice, because it could force a film-maker to be more imaginative and this is a film that always springs to mind as an example. I think of the firing squad scene in particular. You can't see the condemned men, just the soldiers taking aim, but then one pops round the corner to retrieve his hat and suddenly we have a connection with them, even though we still can't see them. Very clever.


The film Casablanca may have made Humphrey Bogart a star but to me his role as Fred C. Dobbs, the down on his luck drifter who agrees to go in search of gold in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is his greatest performance.

I think I'd agree with that, but the thing that is fascinating about Casablanca is that no-one had any faith in it. The script wasn't even finished. So you could say Bogart hardly acts at all and has an air of resignation, that simply works perfectly for the story. Here we see him working hard and we can understand why he is one of the greatest screen actors.
Jon
"NOBODY MOVE! I dropped me brain."
Catch up with reviews and news at my blog,

Offline Antares

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2009, 01:39:44 AM »
Bogart is definitely my favorite actor. He is featured in more DVD's that I own, than any other actor. What's amazing about him, is the way he knows how to position himself before the camera to make every character he plays iconic.

When they talk about the camera loving an actor, they're definitely talking about Bogart.

Offline Jon

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2009, 02:27:00 AM »
He's certainly one of my favourites too. Always gives value for money. I think the only film of his I haven't liked so far is The African Queen. Sacrilege, I know! But something about it just doesn't gel for me.

I always liked the story about him that he formed the original Rat Pack and that it was Lauren Bacall who coined that phrase.
Jon
"NOBODY MOVE! I dropped me brain."
Catch up with reviews and news at my blog,

Offline Antares

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 02:32:03 AM »
I think the only film of his I haven't liked so far is The African Queen.

 :o :tomato: :stars:

Just kidding, actually it's not too high on my list either.

But not because of Bogart or the screenplay, but because I felt that Hepburn was WAY over the top in her performance.

Offline Jon

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 02:43:21 AM »
Yes, she was strangely melodramatic. And it sort of overpowers Bogart. Odd really, because when you see her in something like The Philadelphia Story or Adam's Rib (with the fantastic Spencer Tracy), she's faultless.
Jon
"NOBODY MOVE! I dropped me brain."
Catch up with reviews and news at my blog,

Offline Antares

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2009, 02:46:09 AM »
My favorite performance of her's is as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter. In fact, that may be my next review.

Offline Mark Harrison

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 07:30:37 PM »
Bogart is one of my favorite male actors and Hepburn is one of my favorite female actresses (perhaps my favorite), so I have to say I'm a fan of The African Queen. :thumbup:

Offline Achim

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2009, 05:15:36 AM »
Bogart is one of my favorite male actors and Hepburn is one of my favorite female actresses (perhaps my favorite), so I have to say I'm a fan of The African Queen. :thumbup:
...which is coming on Blu in 2010.

Just saying.

Although that's almost common knowledge by now.

Offline Mark Harrison

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Re: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2009, 07:18:50 PM »
Yeah, I knew about that Blu-ray. :clap:

I'll be picking it up since there hasn't ever been an R1 release of this movie on any disc based format.