THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter
Huston, Tim Holt
Director: John Huston
Audio: DTS HD 1.0
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 126 Minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2010
“Badges? We don’t got no badges…we don’t need no badges…we DON’T HAVE TO SHOW YOU ANY STINKIN’ BADGES!”
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a MAN’S movie.
It was made by the ultimate man’s director in John Huston. It starred the ultimate man’s actor in Humphrey Bogart. And I can’t remember even SEEING a woman in the picture, other than the native ones who feed Walter Huston fruit and light his cigarettes in a scene that seems strangely out of place amongst the rest of the film.
None of this is a critique or a commentary, I’m simply stating that the movie is what it is. And that’s a dynamite piece of entertainment from the golden age of Hollywood. This is one of my favorite Bogart films, one of my favorite John Huston films…heck, one of my favorite films of ANY ilk overall.
It’s definitely one of Bogie’s seminal performances. He plays Fred C. Dobbs, a down-on-his-luck American in Mexico trying to scrape by. He befriends Curtin (Holt), who has similar problems. They beg, drink, feel sorry for themselves, and work a really hard job only to get cheated out of their wages by an unscrupulous employer.
One night while renting cots, they meet up with Howard (Walter Huston), a likeable old geezer who talks about the promises and perils of mining for gold. He knows what he’s talking about. He knows how to do it. But most importantly, he knows the dangers, and they aren’t all ones on the trail or in the elements. They’re the ones that manifest when men get a taste of riches and find their appetites aren’t easily whetted.
Nevertheless, he inspires Dobbs and Curtin into wanting to try prospecting for themselves. He agrees to go along, and proves himself much more formidable than you’d believe, given his age. The work is hard, but his experience leads them to a mountain filled with a gold most people wouldn’t even recognize as the precious element.
But as the treasure mounts up, Dobbs becomes increasingly paranoid and greedy…a bad combination. From a sure partner to a nervous, scheming mess of tics, Dobbs degenerates in front of our eyes, and demonstrates why this role is a favorite amongst Bogie’s fans.
The film won Oscars for John Huston’s tight direction and sharp screenplay, and his father Walter took home a well-deserved Supporting Actor statuette for his memorable work. The recognition reflects what a perfectly scripted, directed and acted masterpiece this movie is. And all three elements are the reason why the film still resonates with fans some 60 years after its release.
BONUS TRIVIA: The dialogue clip above is one of the most misquoted in movie history, so I took the opportunity to show it as it really was spoken.
Warner has done a beautiful job with bringing this classic black and white transfer to high definition. This is a sharp and clear presentation with excellent contrast, bright whites, deep blacks and amazing details throughout. It’s always a joy when a movie that’s well-known to you feels brand new, and this Blu-ray definitely offered me that experience.
Likewise, the uncompressed mono soundtrack is surprisingly good, offering striking dynamic range and clarity considering the film’s age. Dialogue is well rendered, and Max Steiner’s potent score is an excellent supporter of the film’s power.
Warner’s “Night at the Movies” gives you the opportunity to experience the film the way 1948 audiences would have, with a trailer, newsreel, a comedy and two classic cartoons (one with Bugs Bunny and the other Porky Pig). Leonard Maltin introduces the package with some interesting trivia about what precedes the movie.
There is a good commentary track from Bogart biographer Eric Lax, a new retrospective documentary on the film, a profile of the great John Huston, and an audio-only bonus of a radio show feature the movie’s original stars.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has always been and always will be a favorite Bogart film of mine, and seeing it in high definition is an amazing treat. Warner is doing a remarkable job in bringing their classic movies home to high definition theatres.