One of the two greatest films ever made about pure greed
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with the great Erich von Stroheim classic GREED (which tragically exists only in a greatly abridged version, and which was based on the haunting Frank Norris novel MCTEAGUE), this is the most powerful movie ever made on the destructive power of greed.THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE is rightfully considered one of the greatest American films, and is also yet another in a string of first-rate collaborations between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart. Although Bogart made many superb films in the forties and fifties, a disproportionate number were with Huston, including the film that made him a star, THE MALTESE FALCON, and the film that garnered Bogie his only Oscar, THE AFRICAN QUEEN. The cast consists primarily of three drifters who want to hit it rich in Mexico. Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, in one of the greatest roles of his career. The character of Bob Curtin is played by Tim Holt, a "B" actor (in the quite literal sense of having acted in scores of "B" pictures) who nonetheless managed to get parts in some exceptionally great films, notably this one, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, and MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, as well as a small role in STAGECOACH (he plays the cavalry commander who rides a short distance with the stagecoach before departing). Both Bogart and Holt are excellent, but the film is more or less stolen by the great Walter Huston, John's father, in the last great role in a long and distinguished career as the veteran prospector Howard. The film was based on a very great novel by the same title by one of the most reclusive authors in the history of literature. During his lifetime, the identify of B. Traven was unknown. If you find dust jackets for printings of his novels from the forties and fifties and sixties, the biographical details are something out of science fiction. Some even claimed that he was Jack London, living in Mexico after having faked his own death! Eventually, investigators went to Mexico after his death and searched exhaustively for the secrets to his identity. He turned out to be an ex-patriot German (not a surprise, since his books were always published in Germany before the United States) named Rex Marut. When John Huston went down to Mexico to film THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE, he attempted to arrange a meeting with B. Traven, but was informed that he was to meet with Traven's representative Hal Croves instead. There is a wonderful photograph that exists of John Huston and "Hal Groves" talking. As he talked with Croves, Huston began to suspect that he was in fact B. Traven himself, though he was unable to voice his suspicion. Years later, it was confirmed to Huston that Hal Groves was yet another alias for Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven. Given this fascinating story, it would have been wonder if they could have included as one of the extras for the DVD set the 60-minute documentary THE MAN WHO WAS B. TRAVEN. The extras are good, but this would have been a wonderful addition. Filming THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE in 1948 was a fascinating choice by John Huston. In 1947, when they were filming, a sharp shift to the political right was clearly discernable. Whereas Hollywood in the 1930s had been largely leftist, in the late forties it was unquestionably right wing. Among directors especially, there were virtually no exceptions, though two prominent directors persisted in their leftist beliefs: one was the great Billy Wilder and the other was John Huston. B. Traven himself was a liberal anarchist populist (it is widely thought he was self-exiled in Mexico because of previous political activity), and the book, as does the movie, is an attack on the materialist values driving Western civilization. Not many directors would have had the courage in 1947 (it was released in January 1948) to make a movie about the evils of greed, but Huston was one who did. Likewise, Bogart was one of the more politically liberal actors in Hollywood, and was unafraid of being in a movie with the message that this one contained.The film is highly unusual in having been filmed primarily on location in Mexico, unlike most Hollywood films, which would merely film in some southern California location. This imparts a look to the film that sets it apart fromAlso unlike most Hollywood films, Huston actually employed Hispanic actors in Hispanic roles. This allowed one veteran Mexican character actor, Alfonso Bedoya, to deliver one of the most famous lines in the history of the movies, when he tells Fred C. Dobbs, "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!""
We ain't got no stinkin' badges!
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 02/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This, one of the funniest lines in cinema, certainly one of the most famous, is actually (as afficionados know) a misquote. What Alfonso Bedoya, who plays "Gold Hat," actually says, when he and his bandito friends are asked for their badges, is "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" I wonder if anybody at the time had any idea how funny this would hit audiences.John Huston wrote the screenplay (adapting B. Traven's novel) and directed his father, Walter Huston along with Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Bruce Bennett in this classic from my favorite age of cinema (the late forties/early fifties). Walter Huston won an academy award as Best Supporting Actor in 1948 and John Huston garnered Oscars for his direction and his screenplay. Bogart won nothing, but I have to say he did a great job.It's easy to think of Humphrey Bogart as always playing Humphrey Bogart as he has done in so many movies, particularly in mysteries and especially as a private eye. But here we see a different Bogart, one who is not entirely sympathetic; indeed as the down and out Fred C. Dobbs he is a bit of a scoundrel and more than a little paranoid. In watching this one realizes that Bogart had a much greater range than he is sometimes given credit for. I also recall him alongside Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951) also directed by John Huston, and in The Caine Mutiny (1954). In the former he did win an Oscar, and in the latter, as Captain Queeg, he gave perhaps his most unforgettable performance.This is a tale of greed and the fever that arises when one hunts for gold. Walter Huston plays a crusty old miner named Howard who tries one more time to strike it rich. Dobbs and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) are seduced by the wily old miner's romantic tales and the three of them go off into the Sierra Madre mountains near Tampico, Mexico to prospect. Naturally they hit pay dirt, but in-between the growing madness of Dobbs and the Mexican bandits, theirs is an uneasy existence. What happens to the gold and to the three men is fascinating to watch, and we sense a timeless human psychology at work. Bob Curtin expresses part of it this way: "You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened."This movie is as good as its reputation, which is considerable, but it's not perfect. Some of it plays a little too simplistically, as when Howard saves the Mexican boy amid the worshipful natives, and some of it is a little silly, as when the bandits mistake gold for sand--not likely! But the almost epic quality of the tale and the felicitous direction as well as many interesting and humorous touches, make this one of the best ever made, and something no true film buff should miss. By the way, the little Mexican boy who sells Dobbs the lottery ticket is a bronzed up Robert Blake."
Bogart outstanding in this classic film directed by John Hus
C. Roberts | Halifax, Yorkshire, United Kingdom | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" won Oscars for best director (John Huston), best supporting actor (Walter Huston) and best screenplay (John Huston). The film was also nominated for best picture but unfortunately lost out to Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet". This was yet another marvellous performance by Humphrey Bogart in a difficult role and proves once again what an outstanding actor he can be when given the right material.
Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) are two Americans down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico, who manage to acquire a temporary job working for Pat McCormick (Barton MacLaine) but don't get paid for their efforts as McCormick does a disappearing act with the money. Dobbs and Curtin catch up with him later in a bar and after coming to blows manage to get the money that was owed to them. A young Mexican boy (Robert Blake) approaches Dobbs who reluctantly buys a lottery ticket from him. Dobbs and Curtin spend the night in a flop house where they meet Howard (Walter Huston), a grizzled old timer who tells them stories of the times he went prospecting for gold in the mountains. They are both fascinated by Howard's stories but don't have the necessary funds to purchase the equipment they would need to look for gold. Next day the young Mexican boy comes to find Dobbs to tell him that his ticket has won some money in the lottery. It is not a fortune but enough to invest in some tools and equipment so that Curtin and Dobbs can team up with Howard to search for gold in the Sierra Madre mountains. Greed and distrust inevitably take hold of Dobbs and he gets increasingly suspicious of his two companions and becomes more and more paranoid as the days go by. He is sure that they want to steal his share of the gold which is just not so. A group of bandits led by Gold Hat (Alfonso Bedoya) come across their camp and try to rob them of the gold but with the help of James Cody (Bruce Bennett) they manage to fight them off.
Some favourite lines from the film:
Humphrey Bogart (to John Huston): "Hey, mister, will you stake a fellow American to a meal?".
Alfonso Bedoya (to Bogart): "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges".
Bogart (to Tim Holt): "Fred C. Dobbs don't say nothing he don't mean".
Writer/director John Huston played a cameo role at the start of the film as an American tourist ("White Suit") who Bogart approaches for money (three times!). Robert Blake was the small boy who sold Bogart the winning lottery ticket. Blake later went on to appear in many feature films such as "In Cold Blood", "Electra Glide in Blue", "Tell Them Willie Boy is Here", and also starred in the TV seies "Baretta".
This was a superlative performance by Humphrey Bogart - one of his best - and completely different to his smooth portrayal of Rick in "Casablanca". His character of Fred C. Dobbs was shifty and devious verging on paranoia and madness. The film has now rightly become a classic and is much admired by "movie buffs"."
BHolt55250@aol.com | Oklahoma | 07/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful reviews. Tim Holt was my father and "Treasure" was always my favorite movie. It's nice to know that his work is still being appreciated. By the way, the man in the "flop house" scene who is talking with Walter Huston is my grandfather, Jack Holt. He just happened to be visiting the set that day and John Huston thought it would be fun to include him in the film!"