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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Reviews

Arguably John Huston's greatest film, this powerful study of masculinity under pressure retains its power. There's gold in them thar hills and Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt are hell-bent to find it. The rather preachy B. Traven novel about greed and its tragic consequences is made more lively and much more human by the father-and-son team of actor Walter Huston and director/writer John, with the invaluable assistance of Bogart. What a nice present to give your father at the end of his career. Bogart gives one of his most memorable performances as Fred C. Dobbs, an ordinary guy who gets transformed and finally consumed by greed. On the bum in Tampico, Mexico, Bogart is reduced to panhandling. He meets and befriends another struggling American, Holt, and the two of them go to work for a shady contractor, MacLane, who takes them to a remote site where they slave away, their pay withheld until the job is done. When the work is finished and they return to Tampico, MacLane says he must go and pick up the payroll. Bogart and Holt complain that they don't have a cent, even to buy a beer, and he gives them a few dollars. They go to a cantina and drink, then check in at a flophouse where they take bunks next to a colorful, garrulous old man (Huston). Huston is regaling the other tramps about prospecting for gold, explaining that he has been at it since the Klondike days, having dug up fortunes and spent them. As Huston spins his tales, he adds that greed is usually the undoing of all prospectors. Bogart goes to sleep and the next day he and Holt look for MacLane and learn that he has a reputation for not paying his workers. They run into him on the street and have to beat him nearly senseless to get him to come up with their pay. Now that they have a little money, they decide prospecting might be a good idea, so they find Huston and ask if he wants to join them. He agrees, and says he's got a little money he can put into the venture. Just then, a young Mexican boy (Robert "Bobby" Blake, veteran of OUR GANG comedies and later famous as TV's "Baretta") who had earlier sold Bogart a lottery ticket, shows up and tells Bogart that his ticket is a winner. Bogart then adds his winnings to the stake and the three men set out to get the gear and equipment they'll need. The three start out as good buddies but wind up in a murderous tangle. Both director John Huston and his distinguished father, Walter, won Oscars for this film, the only time father and son won the coveted gold statuettes. (In 1985, a third generation of the family won an Oscar when Anjelica Huston, John's daughter and Walter's granddaughter, was named Best Supporting Actress for her role in PRIZZI'S HONOR--also directed by John Huston.)