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"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" is a 1948 American dramatic adventurous neo-Western written and directed by John Huston. The film centers around Fred C. Dobbs, played by Humphrey Bogart, Bob Curtin, played by Tim Holt and a grizzled prospector named Howard, played by John Huston's father Walter Huston. Photo by Insomnia Cured Here/ Flcikr

A Retrospect on the Silver Screen

'The Treasure of Sierra Madre'
Friday, January 4, 2019

A short while ago, I had an attack of nostalgia and was smacked in the face with the memory of old movies. My memory is that they were outstanding old movies. My TV has an On Demand Button and sometimes it works. Bogart is one of my favorites and so a few of his classics popped into my mind. I remember the angst I felt as I walked out of "The Treasure of Sierra Madre” when I was a teenager. Not fully understanding all the conflicts and ironies depicted in the movie, I thought it was an attention-grabbing movie with a twisted ending. 

Watching it recently, I discovered it is that and a lot more. Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt – a Tom Mix sort of cowboy who came somewhat later – are the central characters. All come together in a flophouse in Tampico, Mexico and by some unlikely events, raise enough money to chase a rumor about "gold in them hills."

Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, the rundown at the heels who is panhandling cigarettes and pesos on the street and looking for his big break. Walter Huston is the required wizened old prospector whose experience is  essential to the expedition and Holt is the young and somewhat innocent, who has just enough money to round out the necessary amount to make the quest possible. 

All are dreaming of the big payday in the sky – you have to remember that the amounts of money tossed about here are significant amounts in 1948. So, the expedition is outfitted and on its way to Sierras to discover this treasure trove. A few minor difficulties are encountered on the way. Bogart's lack of knowledge is revealed when he excitedly discovers pyrite and thinks it is gold. Of course, Huston disappoints him and gently mocks his innocence by accurately identifying the "fool's gold."

Upon arriving at the lode, things go relatively well as the three of them – well, four of them – they are found and joined by Cody, played by Bruce Bennett, who is addicted to the get rich quick syndrome. Lots of gold is taken from the lode. Apparently they are all skilled miners, carpenters, water engineers and mineral experts as we see the flumes and mine tunnel and other somewhat complicated engineering feats that are apparently constructed by the small crew. 

A gunfight with the Mexican banditos takes the life of Cody before the other three decide to go back to civilization. Here the tension erupts and moving forward a few frames, suffice to say that Bogart becomes paranoid, and driven by his derangement, attempts to murder his loyal companion. From here the film moves to a surprising, deflating, ironic, ending that only director John Huston could pull off. 

“The Treasure of Sierra Madre” is a great film with all sorts of possible interpretations. It will hold your attention as the characters go through all sorts of metamorphosis. Comradeship; greed; paranoia exposed.