Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

"Money is the root of all evil". Or the saying goes. But this film illustrates how money reveals our true nature. It does not corrupt, money just provides corrupt people with opportunities. Just like alcohol, money is a truth serum. It reveals the darkest depths of your being.

Gold is the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt play two down-on-their-luck Americans looking for opportunity in rural, mountainous Mexico. They are great buddies looking for work. Any work to keep food in their stomachs and beer in their bellies. After being cheated out of their pay they find solace in a flophouse. There they meet Walter Huston. In his Oscar-winning performance, Huston portrays Howard, the grizzled old prospector. After forcefully collecting their owed wages Dobbs (Bogart) and Curtain (Holt) decide to team up with the prospector and find their fortune.

The first half of the film is an adventure film as the 3 leads search for gold. The second half is a drama. The effect of wealth and gold upon our characters is the true genius of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Each of the three must deal with the effects of greed, suspicions, mistrust and paranoia. All these emotions rise in our trio of prospectors as they find gold. Can their partnership and friendship survive this new found wealth? Can they trust each other? How do their relationships change? The gold reveals their true personalities. How would you deal with a windfall? Would you be any different than you are today?

Written and directed by John Huston. He received academy awards for both of these efforts. They are well-deserved. Treasure lost the Best Picture Oscar to 'Hamlet'. I challenge you to find anyone who would rather watch Olivier overact in 'Hamlet' than relish Bogart and company in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I doubt any such person exists. Except for, maybe, Olivier's Mom.

This is an adventure film with a challenging message. It is both an exciting movie to watch and a movie that can cause some introspection. Enjoy both activities!

Notes: Headline followers may want to pay close attention to the young boy selling lottery tickets. That is a very young Robert Blake. Also, this film is based on the fabulous novel by B. Traven. We are unsure of the author's birth name. He spent most of his life in Mexico, fighting for the rights of the indigenous peoples. The story goes that he was invited to visit the set. He refused, but said he would send his assistant. He then pretended to be the assistant while using one of his many assumed names. This is most ironic because he was offered $1,000 per week to be an advisor on the set. He turned it down to keep his anonymity.

Filmed in 1948, written and directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, Walter Huston and Bruce Bennett.

The movie's oft-quoted line "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" was voted as the #36 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).

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