This superb adaptation of B. Traven's novel about gold and greed reunited Humphrey Bogart with writer-director John Huston, whose 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon put both of them on Hollywood's A-list. In an unusually daring bit of casting, Bogart played an unsympathetic protagonist: down-at-heel Fred C. Dobbs, a man of weak character whose larcenous impulses get the better of him while on an ill-fated expedition in the Sierra Madre mountains. Accompanied by newfound friend Curtin (erstwhile cowboy star Tim Holt), Dobbs trails along with Howard (Walter Huston, the director's father), a crusty, eccentric old prospector who needs the younger men to help him mine the gold he has found in the desolate hill country. Huston's screenplay initially focuses on the camaraderie of these unlikely partners, then on their euphoria at striking pay dirt, and later on the greed and paranoia that grips them. Bogart's characterization of Dobbs, who believes his partners are scheming to steal his share of the gold, is a tour de force unequalled in this legendary actor's distinguished career. But Walter Huston, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his bravura turn as the wizened desert rat, upstages even the remarkable Bogie. In fact, that year's Oscar ceremony was a bonanza for the whole family: John won two awards of his own for the film's script and direction. More than a half century later, Treasure still impresses as a powerful commentary on the dark side of human nature. Gritty and uncompromising, it tells a basically unpleasant story but does so quite entertainingly -- which is why it remains a favorite of movie buffs and filmmakers alike.
Loosely based on the Biblical parable of the thieves and the "Pardoner's Tale" in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, John Huston's morality tale is one of the great cinematic proofs of the Biblical adage radix malorum est cupitidas, or, the root of evil is the love of money. The film is a clever study of the erosive effect that money can have on flawed men's characters. Shot entirely on location in Mexico, the film's dry and dusty atmosphere is clearly authentic. Humphrey Bogart's maniacal Fred Dobbs is one of moviedom's great characterizations, a conglomeration of cunning, greed and paranoia. As his wealth mounts, so does his distrust. While external threats abound, the real enemy lies within. The Treasure of the Sierre Madre examines the essential existential hopelessness and loneliness of the avaricious man, drawing an implicit parallel between the prospectors and man's contemporary pursuit of material wealth. A failure with audiences who apparently didn't want to see Bogie playing such a nefarious anti-hero, the movie is now recognized by most critics as an American classic: AFI voted it #30 on the list of 100 all time great American films, while for the first time ever, a father and son -- John (for directing and screenplay) and Walter Huston (for best supporting actor) -- won Oscars for their stellar work.
|Source:||Warner Home Video|