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Film: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Howard: Aah, gold's a devilish sort of thing, anyway. You start out, you tell yourself you'll be satisfied with 25,000 handsome smackers worth of it. "So help me, Lord, and cross my heart." Fine resolution. After months of sweatin' yourself dizzy, and growin' short on provisions, and findin' nothin', you finally come down to 15,000, then ten. Finally, you say, "Lord, let me just find $5,000 worth and I'll never ask for anythin' more the rest of my life.
Flophouse Bum: $5,000 is a lot of money.
Howard: Yeah, here in this joint it seems like a lot. But I tell you, if you was to make a real strike, you couldn't be dragged away. Not even the threat of miserable death would keep you from trying to add 10,000 more. Ten, you'd want to get twenty-five; twenty-five you'd want to get fifty; fifty, a hundred. Like roulette. One more turn, you know. Always one more.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 film directed and written by John Huston, starring his father Walter Huston and Humphrey Bogart, and adapted from a 1927 novel by B. Traven. Father and son both won Oscars for their achievements in the film, which was also nominated for Best Picture.

A trio of gringos in Mexico; Fred Dobbs, Bob Curtin and Howard the prospector, decide to search for gold in the eponymous mountain range. At first, the adventure seems simple enough; in fact, they even find their gold. What they didn't count on might just be the greatest obstacle of all: themselves.

This film features examples of:

  • All That Glitters
  • Bandito: The fake Federales who deliver the film's most famous line.
    Gold Hat: Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dobbs' insanity catches up with him, he dies, and the treasure is lost; rendering 10 months of Curtin and Howard's lives a waste. But Howard gets a nice position as a medicine man, and Curtin may yet get his dream of a nice peach farm.
  • Bottomless Magazines: A nice aversion. In every major action scene, we see both the heroes and villains reloading constantly.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The burros the group rent. Or rather, their branding marks. The bandits who kill Dobbs are caught when someone recognizes the mark.
  • Cool Old Guy: Howard.
  • Creator Cameo: That's John Huston as the white-suited man Dobbs keeps accosting for a handout in Tampico.
  • Death by Materialism: Dobbs.
  • Evil Laugh: Dobbs develops an unsettling one as he gets crazier.
  • Fedora of Asskicking: Dobbs wears one.
  • Foreshadowing: Howard's little spiel about partners in a gold claim going crazy with greed and turning on each other is a neat summary of what happens.
    • Also, early on they are hit by a "Norther", which Howard explains are high-speed winds that blow across the land from the north. At the end, they are hit by another which blows the gold dust away before they make it to the ruins.
  • Gold Fever: A driving force in the plot.
  • Happy Dance: Courtesy of Howard, when they find the gold vein.
  • Hat Damage: Dobbs fires a warning shot right into the bandito leader's hat.
  • Magnificent Moustaches of Mexico: The fake Federales exemplify this.
  • Nice Hat: Gold Hat insists on putting his hat back on before being executed.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Dobbs and Curtin give the foreman of their work crew one of these after he cheats them out of their pay.
  • Pet the Dog: Fixing the mountain when they leave, burying Cody's body, and informing his widow.
  • Prospector: All three main characters, but Howard in particular exemplifies the "old and grizzled" stereotype of the trope.
    • The character of Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2 is a direct parody of Howard.
  • Sanity Slippage: Dobbs. Howard mentions it happening to his comrades before.
  • Sound-Only Death: A few: Gold Hat, Dobbs, banditos, Bob (although he doesn't get killed.)
  • Third-Person Person: Dobbs starts to do this when he grows more unhinged.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Even getting rescued from a mine collapse and then a Gila monster doesn't make Dobbs any less suspicious of his partners.
  • Villain Protagonist: It will surprise nobody who pays attention for the first ten minutes to know that Dobbs turns out this way.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The mine caves in on Dobbs. Curtin calls out to him, then has second thoughts and turns around, leaving Dobbs to die. Then, after a moment's hesitation, he turns around again and digs Dobbs out.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: The bandits who kill Dobbs steal his gold, but mistake it for sand and dump it off; it gets blown away by a windstorm.


That Lady In ErmineFilms of the 1940sUnfaithfully Yours
The Treasure of Silver LakeIndex of Film WesternsTremors
Mr. Smith Goes To WashingtonAFI's 100 Years... 100 MoviesAnnie Hall
Touch of EvilRoger Ebert Great Movies ListTriumph of the Will
The Snake PitAcademy AwardAll the King's Men
Red RiverNational Film RegistryAll About Eve
Pirate ParrotImageSource/Live-Action FilmsBandito

alternative title(s): The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
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