In a cockroach-infested flophouse, "Dobbsie" and Curtin meet a spellbinding old prospector (Huston) spinning tales of gold mines and fortunes won and lost. When they stumble across the foreman and beat their wages out of him in an ugly fistfight, they decide to pool their money, hook up with the old man, and venture into the Sierra Madre Mountains to seek their fortune.
Led by the spry prospector, they outfit themselves with burros and prospecting tools, and head out into the remote, unforgiving landscape. They make a gold strike, endure back-breaking work and fight off bandits. As their fortunes rise, greed and suspicion cause Dobbs - the weakest among them - to disintegrate into a paranoid madman, vicious and violent.
The fate of the three men and the gold is resolved in an unforgettable scene of irony.
The Cast of 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre'
Holt has his moments, but is somewhat one-dimensional as Curtin, who is tempted by greed but allows his better nature to triumph. And Alfonso Bedoya as the infamous bandit "Gold Hat" is nicely low and mean.
Walter Huston deserved his Oscar as the shrewd and eccentric prospector, Howard. Experience has taught him that the quest for gold ends as often in madness and defeat as it does in riches, and he warns a disbelieving Dobbs of his fate when they first meet. Yet Howard is more than ready to make another try himself. It's his vitality that guides the expedition, and his rich humor that crowns the final irony.
Director John Huston appears early on in a cameo as an American gent Dobbs hits up for a handout not once, but three times. He finally tells Bogie to "make your way through life without my assistance," which may be a sly reference to their lucrative collaboration in real life.
He was the only director ever to direct both his father to an Oscar (in this film) and his daughter, Anjelica, for Prizzi's Honor, placing them in the rarefied company of three-generation Oscar-winning families.
'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' - the Bottom LineWith apologies to Gordon Gekko, this is the best movie ever made about the power of greed to destroy men's souls. Bogart wasn't nominated for the best actor Oscar, but he deserved to be. It's a riveting performance of a flawed man who is tested, tried, and found wanting.
Recommended for YouIf you like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, you may like other Humphrey Bogart films or movies by John Huston, including Chinatown and Moby Dick.
'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' at a Glance:Year: 1948, Black and White
Director: John Huston
Running Time: 126 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers