Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), directed by John Huston.

In memory this is an unromantic, unheroic adventure story. Which would make it part of a small genre... maybe add The Wages of Fear. On another viewing it is not quite so heavy and there is more humor, sentiment and action/adventure than I remember. It suggests Huston's own The Man Who Would Be King (1975): men seeking their fortune beyond the horizon and not enjoying their success. When most adventures are fantasies, there is something especially gripping about a serious tale of gold fever and madness that goes for gritty realism.

Great credit is due to Bogart. A lot of actors will be the villain if he is the sort you love to hate or is charming or some sort of satanic majesty. Bogart's Dobbs is homely and unlikeable throughout. And he's not even a villain in the sense of "the better the villain the better the movie"; he's just a small-minded guy caught up in passions he can't control.

Walter Huston is the old timer gold-mining addict. He's seen it all before, knows what greed and paranoia will do to his partners, is undeceived as to the consequences, but just can't stay away. He has a great line -- asked what he would do with his share: "Settle down, buy a store and read comic strips and adventure stories." That and "If I were you boys, I wouldn't talk or even think about women. T'aint good for your health."

Tim Holt was not as well known as the other two actors and plays the ordinary guy, a proxy for the viewer.

It's a tough guy film with little multi-cultural sensitivity: dirty Mexican bandits and simple primitive Indians.

Max Steiner score.

Available on Blu-ray.

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