Movie #120 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
(1948, US, d. John Huston)
I was very affected by this film. It did two things for me: give me an idea as to where the modern adventure roots back to and prove to me that John Huston was a fantastic filmmaker. The story is about the power of greed and the negative repercussions it can spur. Three men with nothing to lose head to the Sierra Madre to find gold and make a profit. What they discover there though is that there is a far greater supply than expected. One of the men named Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) becomes greedier and greedier. That soon manifests itself into a paranoia and then an eventual craze that directly leads to his demise. One of the first films shot completely on location outside of the US, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a fantastic and original treasure movie that is more concerned with the substance of the film than the exotic locales and visual exposition most of its modern counterparts tend to obsess over. A scene in particular, when Curtin (Tim Holt) reads a letter aloud from the now widowed wife of James Cody (Bruce Bennett) to her husband comes to mind. What would seem like something that would never fit in the regular adventure movie instead becomes a testament to the film’s ability to allow painfully touching moments such as these to invade our hearts and remind us that this story knows itself more than anything else. As he did in The Asphalt Jungle, John Huston crafts a film out of its plot and the characters that live within it. Though I wish the characters of the film were developed a little more (they all felt like sort of extreme variations of the same person), the story is fascinating and can easily stand the test of time.