Sunday, May 13, 2012
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Two-Disc Special Edition)
#30 (1998) and #38 (2007) on the AFI 100 Best Movies List
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American film written and directed by John Huston, a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, in which two impecunious Americans Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) during the 1920s in Mexico join with an old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston, the director's father), to prospect for gold. The old-timer accurately predicts trouble, but is willing to go anyway.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 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), although the night scenes were filmed back in the studio. The film is quite faithful to the novel. In 1990, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
By the 1920s the violence of the Mexican Revolution had largely subsided, although scattered gangs of bandits continued to terrorize the countryside. The newly established post-revolution government relied on the effective, but ruthless, Federal Police, commonly known as the Federales, to patrol remote areas and dispose of the bandits. Foreigners, like the three U.S. prospectors who are the protagonists in the story, were at very real risk of being killed by the bandits if their paths crossed. The bandits, likewise, were given little more than a "last cigarette" by the army units after capture, even having to dig their own graves first.
* Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs
* Walter Huston as Howard
* Tim Holt as Bob Curtin
* Bruce Bennett as James Cody
* Barton MacLane as Pat McCormick
* Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat
* Arturo Soto Rangel as El Presidente
* Manuel Dondé as El Jefe
* José Torvay as Pablo
* Margarito Luna as Pancho
A few notable uncredited actors appear in the film. In an opening cameo, director John Huston is pestered for money by Bogart's character. Actor Robert Blake also appears as a young boy selling lottery tickets. However, the most controversial cameo is the rumored one by Ann Sheridan. Sheridan allegedly did a cameo as a streetwalker. After Dobbs leaves the barbershop in Tampico (actually a set on a studio soundstage), he spies a passing prostitute who returns his look. Seconds later, the woman is picked up again by the camera, but this time in the distance. Some filmgoers and critics feel the woman looks nothing like Sheridan, but the DVD commentary for the film contains a statement that it is she. A photograph included in the documentary accompanying the DVD release shows Sheridan in streetwalker costume, with Bogart and Huston on the set. However, single frames of the film show a different woman in a different dress and different hairstyle, raising the possibility that Sheridan filmed the sequence but that it was reshot with another woman for indeterminate reasons. Many film-history sources credit Sheridan for the part.
Co-star Tim Holt's father, Jack Holt, a star of silent and early sound Westerns and action films, makes a one-line appearance at the beginning of the film as one of the men down on their luck.
Significant portions of the film's dialog are in unsubtitled Spanish.
The opening scenes, filmed in longshot in Plaza de la Libertad, Tampico, show modern (i.e. of the 1940s) cars and buses, even though the story opens in 1925, as evidenced by the lottery numbers poster.