Sunday, August 4, 2013

212. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: John Huston
Written By: John Huston, B. Traven, from novel by B. Traven
Main Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane
Click here to view the trailer


With the watching of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", I can finally say farewell to the decade of the 1940s and the salmon colored information boxes that go along with them in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book. I've now officially watched the first 222 films form THE BOOK and am moving right along.

The plot of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is fairly simple and starts out with Fred C. Dobbs (Bogart), an American staying in Tampico, Mexico, who is flat broke and reduced to begging for pesos. After a little while, Dobbs meets up with Bob Curtin (Holt) and the two gents end up staying in a Salvation Army type place, where they meet Howard (Huston), an old prospector who tells stories of gold hunting. Eventually the two manage to make a few bucks, by working for and then beating their earned money out of a crooked foreman and decide to take their earnings back to Howard and put it toward prospecting supplies. Howard agrees and the three head into the Sierra Madre mountains, where Howard is certain they'll find gold, become rich and be able to live like fat cats. Well, turns out Howard wasn't wrong, as the trio do end up striking gold. However, paranoia and greed get the best of them, especially Dobbs, who can't sleep wondering if one of his comrades is going to rob him of his share of the loot. Later, the trio is joined by an intruder, James Cody (Bennett), who had been planning to prospect the hills himself and offers to make their trio a quartet, as long as they agree to split whatever they find from here on out into fourths. The gang decide to kill him instead, but before they can do the deed themselves, Cody is murdered by a gang of Mexican bandits, which also spells trouble for Howard, Dobbs and Curtin. All of that and there's still about an hour of screen time left and the adventure is far from over!


Much like the trio of prospectors who went deep into the mountains of the Sierra Madre to hunt for gold, I myself was on a mission to find something as well. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" was my eighth Humphrey Bogart movie from THE BOOK (in fact, I don't think I've seen any Bogart films that I haven't already watched for THE BOOK, so it was my eighth Bogart movie, period) and the first one (besides "Angels with Dirty Faces", in which he's not a main character) that I really took a liking to. You see, I'd been on a mission for quite sometime to find a good Humphrey Bogart film and finally, finally I've found one that didn't leave me hating the iconic actor even more. You know what did it? The fact that he didn't play his usual bad ass, cool cat, chain smoking, dame dazzling, suit wearing self. IN TOTSM Bogart plays the bad guy, believe it or not and what a job he does! I mean, I didn't just not hate him in this, I actually loved him in this and can confidently and honestly say that he had the best performance in the picture, with a cast that included Walter Huston EARNING an Oscar.

However, it's my blog and as per usual, I just can't write a review without a little griping. My gripes are somewhat minor though, so just bear with me and we'll get to the finish line as quick and as painless as possible. Honestly, I just wish they'd left us alone with Dobbs, Curtin and Howard for a while longer, without involving Cody, bandits and Indians. In a perfect world, the three would've gone mad from paranoia and greed and been left at the end, ready and willing to kill one another, imagining schemes and double crosses in their heads. To me, the paranoia & greed element was the core of the story and that should've been at the forefront, whereas it seemed Huston was much more occupied with just making an solid action-adventure story. Not that there's anything wrong with that, because as it is Huston DID make a really good action-adventure story. All I'm saying is that this one had high '10' potential and it just didn't get there.

Other than that, I thought this film was a ton of fun. You had a fantastic cast, which included a Bogart performance that I could not only tolerate, but actually really liked and is easily the best thing he's ever done. You had a great story, tied up tight at the end with a fantastic finale. It was neither a happy ending, nor a sad ending and it was all tied up nice & neat. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if Howard and Curtin had wound up with the gold, that would've reduced the rating by quite a bit. I hate tacked on happy endings and that's the last thing I wanted to see here. As it is, they were able to make sense of a good, happy ending, without the heroes getting their gold back. I'll also say that as much as I didn't care for the inclusion of outsiders, I did love the reading of the letter from Cody's wife (now widow) - it was indeed a heart wrenching moment. All in all it was a super fun night at the movies and hell freezes over as Bogart gets a little love from yours truly.

RATING: 7/10  I can't go higher than that, in good conscience (for now anyway), but this is really good and well worth your time.


August 4, 2013  10:53pm


  1. We have agreed to differ over Humph before, but I'm delighted you found a good one.
    Yes, a different role.. but he could do different - Casablanca springs to mind.. Ah, but you didn't like that one much either, so poor example to pick! OK, Cain Mutiny, if you fancy seeing him go bonkers again.
    Very different, but not at all recommended, 'Left Hand of God' - he is a priest. Terrible film.

    1. Yeah, I tend to like it when he's the bad guy.

  2. I can see why this is considered one of the all time classics. Bogart and Huston are outstanding, and the story is riveting. I understand your desire to have the 3 main characters more isolated and all succumb to their greed, but for me that would have been too bleak. I liked seeing the comparison of one character giving into temptation while the others fought it off.

    1. Definitely my favorite Bogey, but I'm not sure how it will fair come TOP 20 time.


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