Monday, April 5, 2010
They Sold Their Souls for: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) is John Huston's film version of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name. The identity of B. Traven was unknown at the time. Some believe that he was Jack London, living in Mexico, after faking his own death. He really was a ex-patriot German named Rex Marut. When John Huston went down to Mexico to film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, he met with Hal Croves, Traven's represetative. As he talked with Croves, Huston began to believe that he was really talking to B. Traven himself. Years later, Huston found out that Hal Groves was another alias for Ret Marut, a.k.a. B. Traven. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre's ,cast consists of: Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston, (the director's father). It was one of the first Hollywood films to be filmed almost entirely on location outside the United States (in the state of Durango and street scenes in Tampico, Mexico).
Dobbs and Curtin are both victims of a swindle in which workers are hired, but not paid by a corrupt businessman. They spend their evenings listening to the stories of Howard, an old gold prospector. When Dobbs wins the lottery, they hook up with Howard and the three friends set out for adventure and to strike it rich in the Sierra Madre mountains. Once out in the desert, Howard quickly proves that he knows what he is talking about and he is the one to discover the gold. Greed soon sets in and Dobbs becomes paranoid that he will be killed by his partners. In one of my favorite scenes, Curtin sees a Gila monster run under a rock and goes to lift the rock to shoot it, but when Dobbs sees Curtin looking in his hiding place, he believes his goods are being stolen.
Soon, a fourth American shows up. Before they can decide what to do with the new stranger, bandits appear, pretending to be Federales. This is where Gold Hat says: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." After a gunfight, the fourth American is killed and a real troop of Federales show up just in time. Howard is called away to help a young boy in the village. Dobbs and Curtin have a argument and Dobbs leaves Curtin laying shot and believed to be dead. What will happen to these three friends and their treasure?
What I loved most about this classic adventure story is it showed how lack of trust and greed, can sometimes turn your plans into nothing but.. dust in the wind .. I also love director cameos: John Huston is the man who Dobbs begs money from early in the film.