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.


  1. Very interesting review, Dawn! I had never read the story about the mysterious author of the novel. The end of this movie has one of those iconic images that stays with you forever. Great choice for our month of action movies.

  2. Dawn, Nice post of one of my favorite Bogart films. BTW did you know that a young Robert Blake was the boy who sold Boggie the lottery ticket?

  3. Dawn, nice review of one of Bogart's best performances. The story just pulls you right in and you are constantly wondering what's going to happen at the end. The ending is also great.

  4. Dawn, I enjoyed your review and thought it was really interesting to read the back story on the novelist. I don't think I have ever seen "Treasure" but I had heard its famous line of dialogue quoted. Great job!

  5. Dawn, I agree with everyone else about not knowing about the author. It was indeed very interesting to read. This is my favorite Bogart film. I think it is his best performance. You are right about greed being a bad thing. The whole story hinges around it. The ending is one I clearly remember well. A nice movie review and I enjoyed it.

  6. Thanks for a great write-up, Dawn. I agree with Kim that it's one of Bogie's best performances. Most people may already know this, but there's a funny parody of the "stinkin' badges" line in Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES. I think John Huston is so mean in his cameo in TREASURE! I hope he wasn't like that as a director. Always fun to read what you've written, Dawn!

  7. Thank you everyone! Today is Walter Huston's birthday. TCM is featuring his movies today. So if you are interested, please check it out.

    Kim, Thank you. I agree. The ending really shows their true character.

    Toto, Thank you. I hope you get a chance to see the film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, at least once. I think sometimes the back story is just as interesting as the film.

    Aki, Thank you. I agree Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is also one of my favorite Bogart films.

    Sark, Thank you. I had forgotten the parody of the "stinkin' badges" line in Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES.

  8. Rick, Thank you. I agree The end of this movie is my favorite scene.

    Paul, Thank you for the reminder about Robert Blake. I did forget.

    Sorry for the late replies. I had computer problems yesterday..