Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The nearer they get to their treasure, the farther they get from the law.
Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled prospector named Howard and decide to join with him in search of gold in the wilds of central Mexico. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster.
The longer Bogart stays on screen the darker his face becomes, the whites of his eyes and the pearls of his teeth the last trace of his dwindling humanity, fighting back the growing mistrust. His journey through the film shows a man who has waited a long time in life for this chance and he intends to make the most of it. Whatever the cost.
That sentiment becomes an overbearing presence in his mind, be it the foreman who tries to cheat him out of money, the wild bandits roaming the hills or the creeping paranoia that wedges itself between Hobb's and his co-workers. The more the trio of men scour the land, the more disturbed and insecure he becomes.…
One small step for man, one giant leap for Hollywood. A landmark turning point in the business, Madre was one of the very first to shoot almost entirely on location, resulting in an unheard of 6 months of shooting. The painstaking details have lived long, gracefully aging this story like the finest wine you've tasted. A classic that time has proven will live forever. Walter Huston's performance only turns your ideas of prospecting wild men completely upside down with spellbinding charm. The roots of Daniel Plainview seed their way back to Huston's face in this.
Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.
Sometimes timing is everything. John Huston was trying to get this film into production as early as 1942 but all that was halted when he was activated by the U.S. Army as a documentary filmmaker. When he returned from the war, Humphrey Bogart had continued his rise in popularity that started with Huston's first film, The Maltese Falcon, and was one of Hollywood's biggest stars by this point. He now had final approval on the screenwriter and director of whatever films he would star in. Knowing what Huston had planned on making next, Bogey's decision was already made. It wasn't the first great collaboration between the two, and it wouldn't be…
Bogey can play the biggest asshole in the world and I still love him.
Ah, as long as there's no find, the noble brotherhood will last but when the piles of gold begin to grow... that's when the trouble starts.
"I know what gold does to men's souls"
A classic in every aspect, John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a revolutionary piece of filmmaking of the highest class. Entertaining in every sense and near perfect, from the in-depth story to the enthralling music, John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is truly one of the most atmospherically effective films ever created, due to Bogart's terrific and terror inspiring performance and the visually stunning cinematography.
Huston's frequent collaborator, Humphrey Bogart has quite possibly delivered his all time greatest performance with this film, being both sympathetic and terrifying. Bogart's flawless expression of his character's downfall into greed and insanity is one of cinema's peaks, reaching complete…
I am always a sucker for movies that show the danger of capitalism especially when they are made this good. It always interesting to watch classics like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre because the actual movie ends up being so different than you expected. The small scale and unorthodox structure completely surprised me.
Perfect story & images thankfully captured on celluloid
I can't really fault anything about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - Bogart is great in a role that is quite different from the quick-talking antihero I'm used to seeing, Walter Huston is wonderful as the knowledgeable prospector who seems to be able to do pretty much anything twice as well as his younger comrades and the head bandit is absolutely brilliant. It never quite clicked with me though, leaving me feeling like I appreciated it more than I liked it. As a portrait of greed, and the way it can break a man, it's undoubtedly impressive, but on this viewing at least I can't say I'd rank it as high as most of Bogart's other classic roles.
Bogey sure can be a bastard sometimes.
This classic is a straightforward slow burner, but Huston is effectively able to establish tones of suspense and dread in subtle ways. It also works as a study of how new found wealth can bring out a human's true self, and it does both of these things very realistically.
Paul Thomas Anderson cites this as one of his biggest influences, and that seems odd since his films tend to navigate their own world of reason and order, but there are larger themes at work here. "When I watch this again," he says, "all of life's questions and answers are there in the movie; the way to make movies, live your life, get along, everything."
Let me first preface my comments with the fact that this is the 5th John Huston film I've seen and of the previous 4 I was never really a big fan of any of them (in fact I count Wise Blood as one of the worst films I've ever seen), so perhaps it isn't quite a surprise that I didn't really enjoy this one either. With that said, I found The Treasure of the Sierra Madre massively overrated. This doesn't mean its terrible, but I didn't think anything here was exceptional. The story is decent, but far from one of the best things I've seen. Bogart is the best thing here as the increasingly greedy and paranoid Dobbs. I just wasn't blown away.
Greed - and what it does to a man's mind is only one the themes here. Honesty and trusting is another that plays out in contrast to Bogart's despicable character Fred Dobbs greed. His portrayal was overlooked by the Academy, not even nominated, which is truly sad in retrospect. But time was on the side of the artist and and his place is secure in the ranks of great actors.
A true masterpiece and Bogarts greatest performance.
As far as Huston's dual 1948 releases, I prefer Key Largo. Bogey exerts a little more self-determination in that one. Shifting morality play dynamics, which the two films share, seem to intensify under tighter time and space constraints. Edward G. Robinson pointing a loaded gun directly toward the viewer also ups the ante. In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the desire for gold in Dobbs's eye literally glimmers from the get-go. The screenplay does not endear the terrible protagonist. So, his companions' ease with him scooting closer to the loot near the end bewilders.
Both Howard (Walter Huston) and Curtin (Tim Holt) are bastards, too, willing to lie and kill for their prize. It took generation-defining chops to craft…
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