Classic Review – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Title – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Director – John Huston (The African Queen)

Cast – Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, Walter Huston, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane

Plot – The American trio of Dobbs (Bogart), Curtain (Holt) and Howard (Huston) head deep into the heart of Mexico and the Sierra Madre Mountains in hope of finding gold and striking it rich. As the months of prospecting wear on, the fragile friendship and alliance the group have begins to wear thin.

“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”

Review by Eddie on 24/05/2017

Despite being almost 70 years old, the influence and lasting legacy of legendary director John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre can’t be underestimated.

A driving force behind Paul Thomas Anderson’s oil opus There Will Be Blood, a winner of 3 Oscars at the 1949 Academy Awards and perhaps most telling of all, a ranking in the top 120 best films of all time on the constantly fluctuating IMDB Top 250, Huston’s gold hunting adventure film that also marks itself with some truly memorable dark comedic moments, may’ve aged in areas over the years but there’s little denying the power at the heart of this cautionary tale.

Following the exploits of a trio of desperate yet determined Americans, we are joined together with Humphrey Bogart’s cold hearted Dobbs, Tim Holt’s good natured Curtain and Walter (John’s father) Huston’s experienced gold prospector Howard (a turn that garnered the legendary actor a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) as the men work together and work out each other for fear of betrayal as they prospect deep in the barren landscape of the Mexican countryside, with nothing more than the potential of great gains driving them forward on their quest.

Huston and his team of fine performers perfectly capture the uneasy friendship of such a fools dream as the group delve further and further into their venture, fighting off bandits, the elements and most tellingly, their internal demons that could potentially drive them over the edge at any given moment.

It’s not hard to see where a filmmaker such as Paul Thomas Anderson would’ve got his inspiration for There Will Be Blood from.

Day Lewis’s legendary turn as oil baron Daniel Plainview is clearly cut from the same cloth as Bogart’s Dobbs, the two sharing an uneasy nature, an ambition to strike it rich no matter the personal or external cost and watching Bogart quietly work his performance from beginning to memorable end is quite the treat, as one of Hollywood’s greats delivers one of his most fully formed acting turns.

The performances are one of the ageless joys of Huston’s film and while not everything in the film stands the test of time, such as some questionable dialogue and character choices, Sierra Madre is one of those rare films of an early Hollywood vintage that could doubtfully be done better be it made today.

This fact can only but be seen as further proof of the longstanding notion that John Huston is and will always be one of cinema’s finest ever directors.

Final Say –    

Filmed on some stunning sets and captured with wonderfully attuned black and white cinematography, John Huston’s quintessential treasure hunting adventure, that portrays a relevant story of greed and the ever present madness of it is a must watch golden era classic that overcomes its slight age flaws to still be a film worthy of it’s standing as one of cinema’s all-time great events.

4 ½ bags of gold out of 5


7 responses to “Classic Review – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

  1. This is an amazing film. I was reminded of it while watching The Revenant also except this has more interesting characters

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