Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948). Director/writer: John Huston.

Down-on-their-luck Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim  Holt) encounter an old prospector in Tampico named Howard (Water Huston) who tells them there's gold to be found in those hills if they only want to do a little hard work and dodge bandits to get it. The three men, quite friendly, set out to find their riches but once they begin prospecting doubt and suspicion begin to gnaw away at them. Other threats come in the form of a man named Cody (Bruce Bennett of Mildred Pierce), who wants to share in future booty, and the bandit "Gold Hat" (Alfonso Bedoya), who robbed a train the men were on and now wants them to turn over their rifles and everything else. Even some friendly Indians cause a bit of a problem when they want Howard to go with them to save an little boy who nearly drowned (in an affecting sequence). But once they have enough gold to live comfortably for the rest of their lives, will they manage to hold onto it, or will paranoia become their undoing? One of the great strengths of this wonderful movie is that it's almost completely unpredictable and continuously suspenseful and fascinating. The three lead actors are all excellent, bolstered by fine performances from Bennett; Bedoya (playing a very different role from his part in The Big Country); Barton MacLane [The Mummy's Ghost], as a man who tries to fleece them early in the picture; and even the director, John  Huston [Annie], as an American who gives Bogie a hand-out on more than one occasion. Bobby Blake plays a cute little Mexican kid selling lottery tickets. One of Huston's best pictures and aside from a couple of stilted moments possibly Bogie's most memorable performance. Notable also for Ted McCord's photography and Max Steiner's evocative score.

Verdict: A classic. ***1/2.


Gary R. said...

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is one of my Top Ten favorite films, and definitely my favorite Bogart film. I'm a big fan of Max Steiner's work, and the score is a classic. I also find the film's philosophical bent to be appealing. The good-humored acceptance of "misfortune" at its conclusion is an attitude I wish I could develop more! BTW, whenever I watch "Treasure" I search in vain for Ann Sheridan's purported cameo. Did it ever exist in any version of the film?

William said...

Ann Sheridan is listed as the "pretty woman walking past the barbershop," but I confess I didn't spot her. Maybe next time. [She may be in the background or on screen for half a second.]

Yes, a sense of humor can help you get over bad times but I doubt if I would have been so philosophical if I had lost a fortune!

I also think Steiner is great and love most of his scores.

"Treasure" is a great movie! Many thanks for your comments, Gary.