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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre(1948)

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teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

SYNOPSIS

The pursuit of gold in the hills of Mexico prompts these Americans to band together: two hard-luck cases, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), and a sage old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston). As their dreams start to materialize, human nature begins to tear the men apart.

Director: John Huston
Producer: Henry Blanke
Screenplay: John Huston, B. Traven (novel)
Cinematography: Ted D. McCord
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Fred C. Dobbs), Walter Huston (Howard), Tim Holt (Bob Curtin), Bruce Bennett (James Cody), Barton MacLane (Pat McCormick), Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat), Arturo Soto Rangel (El Presidente), Manuel Donde (El Jefe), Robert Blake (Mexican boy), Ann Sheridan (Streetwalker).
BW-127m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is Essential

Many critics consider The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, released in 1948, to be director John Huston's finest cinematic offering, a gritty depiction of the cancerous effects of gold lust upon a man's soul. Yet there are countless films that deal with the subject matter of money and greed and the deadly combination the two can create. What makes this film stand out is the artistry behind the movie. From the direction of Huston, to the performances of Humphrey Bogart and Huston's father, Walter, to the stellar camera work of Ted McCord, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre achieves an uncompromising look into the dark side of human nature.

John Huston first read the novel by B.Traven in 1936, and thought it would make a good film. He would have to wait ten years, however, due to World War II, but Warner's held the project for him at the insistence of producer Henry Blanke. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre became one of the first American films to be shot entirely on location, around the village of Jungapeo, Mexico. Several films by Robert Flaherty and F.W. Murnau had been made abroad for American studios, but they were documentaries and were brought to companies only after they were filmed. Huston's film was also expensive; the ever-growing budget topped out at three million, much to the consternation of Jack Warner. Insistent upon perfection, Huston plowed through his budget and slipped further behind schedule, prompting the first argument between the director and Bogart, now on their fourth collaboration. During this spat, Bogart, eager to wrap the film in order to attend a boat race in Honolulu, complained yet again to Huston. In response, Huston reached across the table, grabbed Bogart's nose between his two fingers and twisted hard. Tears came to the actor's eyes, but not one word was spoken, and Bogart never complained about the film schedule again. Huston knew he had a masterpiece on his hands and he would not be rushed.

Bogart, in what many consider his greatest performance, gets an opportunity to shed his suave leading man image created seven years prior in The Maltese Falcon (1941). His character undergoes a moral metamorphosisfrom a congenial, average guy to a murderous monster gripped by paranoia. The elder Huston, having been a matinee idol for the last twenty years, was unsure of his ability to play the crusty prospector. It took heavy prodding by his son and the removal of his false teeth to produce the character for which Huston would capture the Best Supporting Actor Oscar® of 1948. His son also collected Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscars®, making it the only time in Academy history for son and father to win in the same year. Plus, it achieves film history with the immortal quote by Gold Hat, "Badges? I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" Movies just don't get any better.

by Scott McGee & Eleanor Quin

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

SYNOPSIS

The pursuit of gold in the hills of Mexico prompts these Americans to band together: two hard-luck cases, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), and a sage old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston). As their dreams start to materialize, human nature begins to tear the men apart.

Director: John Huston
Producer: Henry Blanke
Screenplay: John Huston, B. Traven (novel)
Cinematography: Ted D. McCord
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Fred C. Dobbs), Walter Huston (Howard), Tim Holt (Bob Curtin), Bruce Bennett (James Cody), Barton MacLane (Pat McCormick), Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat) BW-127m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is Essential

Many critics consider The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, released in 1948, to be director John Huston's finest cinematic offering, a gritty depiction of the cancerous effects of gold lust upon a man's soul. Yet there are countless films that deal with the subject matter of money and greed and the deadly combination the two can create. What makes this film stand out is the artistry behind the movie. From the direction of Huston, to the performances of Humphrey Bogart and Huston's father, Walter, to the stellar camera work of Ted McCord, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre achieves an uncompromising look into the dark side of human nature.

John Huston first read the novel by B.Traven in 1936, and thought it would make a good film. He would have to wait ten years, however, due to World War II, but Warner's held the project for him at the insistence of producer Henry Blanke. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre became one of the first American films to be shot entirely on location, around the village of Jungapeo, Mexico. Several films by Robert Flaherty and F.W. Murnau had been made abroad for American studios, but they were documentaries and were brought to companies only after they were filmed. Huston's film was also expensive; the ever-growing budget topped out at three million, much to the consternation of Jack Warner. Insistent upon perfection, Huston plowed through his budget and slipped further behind schedule, prompting the first argument between the director and Bogart, now on their fourth collaboration. During this spat, Bogart, eager to wrap the film in order to attend a boat race in Honolulu, complained yet again to Huston. In response, Huston reached across the table, grabbed Bogart's nose between his two fingers and twisted hard. Tears came to the actor's eyes, but not one word was spoken, and Bogart never complained about the film schedule again. Huston knew he had a masterpiece on his hands and he would not be rushed.

Bogart, in what many consider his greatest performance, gets an opportunity to shed his suave leading man image created seven years prior in The Maltese Falcon (1941). His character undergoes a moral metamorphosis-from a congenial, average guy to a murderous monster gripped by paranoia. The elder Huston, having been a matinee idol for the last twenty years, was unsure of his ability to play the crusty prospector. It took heavy prodding by his son and the removal of his false teeth to produce the character for which Huston would capture the Best Supporting Actor Oscar® of 1948. His son also collected Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscars®, making it the only time in Academy history for son and father to win in the same year. Plus, it achieves film history with the immortal quote by Gold Hat, "Badges? I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" Movies just don't get any better.

By Scott McGee & Eleanor Quin

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

In the Chuck Jones-directed animated short "8 Ball Bunny" (July 1950), Bugs Bunny is in the tropical town of Martinique, trying to get a top hat wearing penguin back home to the South Pole. In this Caribbean retreat, our good-hearted hero offers some change to a panhandler who looks and sounds suspiciously like Humphrey Bogart. In fact, the exchange between "Bogie" and Bugs, complete with the line, "Can you spare some change for a fellow American who's down on his luck?," spoofs the scenes in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when Bogie approaches John Huston, playing the rich American, with the same sad-sack line. The short ends at the South Pole with Bugs and the penguin again being panhandled by the unshaven Bogart and Bugs getting the last laugh with his final remark.

Like Casablanca's (1942) "Play it Sam," The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has one of the most misquoted lines in film history. Whereas most people remember the immortal line delivered by Alfonso Bedoya as just "We don't need no steenkin' badges," the actual line is, "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any steenkin' badges!" This line was lampooned, as were many others, in Mel Brooks' Western parody Blazing Saddles (1974).

As he had done for The Maltese Falcon (1941), John Huston adapted much of the source novel's dialogue for the screenplay of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Another Huston trademark was his continuing theme of a small group of people on a quest, usually for wealth. Starting with The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Huston continued this examination in The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Beat the Devil (1953), The Kremlin Letter (1970), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975), the latter film a project Huston always wanted to do with Humphrey Bogart.

Director Stanley Kubrick might have had the ironic denouement of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in mind when he shot The Killing (1956). Sterling Hayden plays a thief whose huge suitcase of money is involuntarily dispensed on an airport tarmac, causing thousands of dollars to go swirling in the wind, much like the gold dust does in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. John Huston made a clever homage to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre himself in one of his later films. In the similarly themed The Man Who Would Be King, a group of lethal tribesmen loot a dead man's body of shiny boots in the same manner that the impoverished banditos covet Fred C. Dobbs' shoes at the end of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Many film buffs have also noted parallels with Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). It too is about the evil that men do to feed their greed. Moreover, Peckinpah's film boasts a performance by Edmond O'Brien that is very similar to Walter Huston's. In Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), a film also similar in plot and theme to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, there is a character in the film named Fred C. Dobbs.

One actor in the film who ended up with as much bad luck as Fred C. Dobbs was child actor Robert Blake. He is currently facing possible murder charges in the death of his late wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley. Blake, 70, is accused of killing 44-year-old Bakley in 2001. She was shot to death in their car outside a restaurant where they had dined.

by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

In the Chuck Jones-directed animated short "8 Ball Bunny" (July 1950), Bugs Bunny is in the tropical town of Martinique, trying to get a top hat wearing penguin back home to the South Pole. In this Caribbean retreat, our good-hearted hero offers some change to a panhandler who looks and sounds suspiciously like Humphrey Bogart. In fact, the exchange between "Bogie" and Bugs, complete with the line, "Can you spare some change for a fellow American who's down on his luck?," spoofs the scenes in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when Bogie approaches John Huston, playing the rich American, with the same sad-sack line. The short ends at the South Pole with Bugs and the penguin again being panhandled by the unshaven Bogart and Bugs getting the last laugh with his final remark.

Like Casablanca's (1942) "Play it Sam," The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has one of the most misquoted lines in film history. Whereas most people remember the immortal line delivered by Alfonso Bedoya as just "We don't need no steenkin' badges," the actual line is, "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any steenkin' badges!" This line was lampooned, as were many others, in Mel Brooks' Western parody Blazing Saddles (1974).

As he had done for The Maltese Falcon (1941), John Huston adapted much of the source novel's dialogue for the screenplay of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Another Huston trademark was his continuing theme of a small group of people on a quest, usually for wealth. Starting with The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Huston continued this examination in The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Beat the Devil (1953), The Kremlin Letter (1970), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975), the latter film a project Huston always wanted to do with Humphrey Bogart.

Director Stanley Kubrick might have had the ironic dnouement of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in mind when he shot The Killing (1956). Sterling Hayden plays a thief whose huge suitcase of money is involuntarily dispensed on an airport tarmac, causing thousands of dollars to go swirling in the wind, much like the gold dust does in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. John Huston made a clever homage to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre himself in one of his later films. In the similarly themed The Man Who Would Be King, a group of lethal tribesmen loot a dead man's body of shiny boots in the same manner that the impoverished banditos covet Fred C. Dobbs' shoes at the end of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Many film buffs have also noted parallels with Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). It too is about the evil that men do to feed their greed. Moreover, Peckinpah's film boasts a performance by Edmond O'Brien that is very similar to Walter Huston's. In Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), a film also similar in plot and theme to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, there is a character in the film named Fred C. Dobbs.

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre would be Humphrey Bogart's third of six films directed by John Huston. The duo had first met on the set of High Sierra (1941), which Huston wrote but did not direct. The other films Huston directed Bogart in were The Maltese Falcon (1941), Across the Pacific (1942), Key Largo (1948), The African Queen (1951), for which Bogart won the Academy Award® for Best Actor, and Beat the Devil (1953).

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was shot in and around the mountainous region surrounding the village of Jungapeo, near San Jose Purua. John Huston and his art director, John Hughes (no, not the 1980s teen-movie director), found this location while on an 8,000-mile scouting trip through Mexico.

Various actors who were nearly cast in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre included: Edward G. Robinson as Dobbs; Walter Huston as Dobbs; Ronald Reagan as Curtin; John Garfield as Curtin; and Zachary Scott as Lacaud or Cody. One actor who did make the final cut was a juvenile named Bobby Blake, now known as Robert Blake, playing the little scamp who sells Bogart his winning lottery ticket.

During the shoot, Humphrey Bogart suffered from a vitamin deficiency that caused his hair to fall out in chunks. He had to have three wigs of varying lengths to wear for the film.

Actress Ann Sheridan was in Mexico at the same time The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was being shot there. As a good luck gesture, Sheridan agreed to appear in the film in an unbilled, walk-on part. After Dobbs leaves the barbershop in Tampico, he notices a passing prostitute who returns his look. In studying the scene carefully, it is rather difficult to believe that the woman is Ann Sheridan. Seconds later, the woman is again picked up in the frame, but only in the distance. It is possible that the switch was made to Sheridan at that point, or an alternate take without Sheridan was used in the final film. Either way, TCM's own Robert Osborne has watched this film countless times, and he has never spotted Ann Sheridan.

Executives at Warner Bros. were not quite sure what to do with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, an admittedly offbeat film. Initially, the suits promoted it as a Western. To further support the opening of the film, the studio lackeys distributed treasure maps showing the locations of the action in the film for display in theater lobbies.

Perhaps in retaliation for a rift with director John Huston over the editing of Key Largo (1948), Warner Bros. released The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Key Largo across the country in a double bill without mentioning Huston's name in its promotion ads.

Co-star Tim Holt's father, Jack Holt, a star of silent and early sound Westerns and action films, makes a brief one-line appearance at the beginning of the film as one of the many down-on-their-luck sad-sacks at the Oso Negro Hotel.

Humphrey Bogart had nothing but love and admiration for his good friend, John Huston. But Bogie also knew how to throw a backhanded compliment to Huston; he told an interviewer about Huston's exacting standards when shooting The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Bogie said, "John wanted everything perfect. If he saw a nearby mountain that could serve for photographic purposes, that mountain was not good; too easy to reach. If we could get to a location site without fording a couple of streams and walking through snake-infested areas in the scorching sun, then it wasn't quite right."

Famous Quotes from THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE

Howard: Hey you fellas, how 'bout some beans? You want some beans? Goin' through some mighty rough country tomorrow, you'd better have some beans.

Dobbs: Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?

Dobbs: Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs!

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.

Howard: We've wounded this mountain. It's our duty to close her wounds. It's the least we can do to show our gratitude for all the wealth she's given us. If you guys don't want to help me, I'll do it alone.
Bob Curtin: You talk about that mountain like it was a real woman.
Fred C. Dobbs: She's been a lot better to me than any woman I ever knew. Keep your shirt on, old-timer. Sure, I'll help ya.

Bob Curtin: You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.

Compiled by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre would be Humphrey Bogart's third of six films directed by John Huston. The duo had first met on the set of High Sierra (1941), which Huston wrote but did not direct. The other films Huston directed Bogart in were The Maltese Falcon (1941), Across the Pacific (1942), Key Largo (1948), The African Queen (1951), for which Bogart won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Beat the Devi (1953).

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was shot in and around the mountainous region surrounding the village of Jungapeo, near San Jose Purua. John Huston and his art director, John Hughes (no, not the 1980s teen-movie director), found this location while on an 8,000-mile scouting trip through Mexico.

Various actors who were nearly cast in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre included: Edward G. Robinson as Dobbs; Walter Huston as Dobbs; Ronald Reagan as Curtin; John Garfield as Curtin; and Zachary Scott as Lacaud or Cody. One actor who did make the final cut was a juvenile named Bobby Blake, now known as Robert Blake, playing the little scamp who sells Bogart his winning lottery ticket. Blake is currently a controversial news item due to the strange circumstances surrounding the death of his wife.

During the shoot, Humphrey Bogart suffered from a vitamin deficiency that caused his hair to fall out in chunks. He had to have three wigs of varying lengths to wear for the film.

Actress Ann Sheridan was in Mexico at the same time The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was being shot there. As a good luck gesture, Sheridan agreed to appear in the film in an unbilled, walk-on part. After Dobbs leaves the barbershop in Tampico, he notices a passing prostitute who returns his look. In studying the scene carefully, it is rather difficult to believe that the woman is Ann Sheridan. Seconds later, the woman is again picked up in the frame, but only in the distance. It is possible that the switch was made to Sheridan at that point, or an alternate take without Sheridan was used in the final film. Either way, TCM's own Robert Osborne has watched this film countless times, and he has never spotted Ann Sheridan.

Executives at Warner Bros. were not quite sure what to do with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, an admittedly offbeat film. Initially, the suits promoted it as a Western. To further support the opening of the film, the studio lackeys distributed treasure maps showing the locations of the action in the film for display in theater lobbies.

Perhaps in retaliation for a rift with director John Huston over the editing of Key Largo (1948), Warner Bros. released The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Key Largo across the country in a double bill without mentioning Huston's name in its promotion ads.

Co-star Tim Holt's father, Jack Holt, a star of silent and early sound Westerns and action films, makes a brief one-line appearance at the beginning of the film as one of the many down-on-their-luck sad-sacks at the Oso Negro Hotel.

Famous Quotes from THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE

[Howard eats, while Dobbs and Curtin snooze.]
Howard: Hey you fellas, how 'bout some beans? You want some beans? Goin' through some mighty rough country tomorrow, you'd better have some beans.

Dobbs: Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?

Dobbs: Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs!

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.

Howard: We've wounded this mountain. It's our duty to close her wounds. It's the least we can do to show our gratitude for all the wealth she's given us. If you guys don't want to help me, I'll do it alone.
Bob Curtin: You talk about that mountain like it was a real woman.
Fred C. Dobbs: She's been a lot better to me than any woman I ever knew. Keep your shirt on, old-timer. Sure, I'll help ya.

Bob Curtin: You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.

Compiled by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Director John Huston had read the book The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven in 1936 and had always thought the material would make a great movie. Based on a nineteenth-century ballad by a German poet, Traven's book reminded Huston of his own adventures in the Mexican Cavalry. When Huston became a director at Warner Bros., starting with the smash success of The Maltese Falcon (1941), Huston asked to write and direct the project, which Warner Bros. had previously secured the movie rights.

B. Traven was the pen name of Berwick Traven Torsvan, AKA Ret Marut, Richard Maurhut, and Hal Croves. In Warner Bros. studio memos, Traven was not referred to by any of his many aliases, but as "some sort of spook" or "the phantom spook." Traven earned these monikers because he refused to sign any documents personally, opting instead to work through a Power of Attorney, usually Hal Croves. Many suspected at the time that Traven and Croves were one and the same person.

Huston was set to make the picture for Warner Bros. when the United States entered World War II. Huston's producer Henry Blanke insisted that the studio hold the material until Huston's release from the Armed Services. After the war, Huston wisely renewed his contract with B. Traven and through their correspondence started once again to plan The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. A meeting was arranged for Huston and Traven to meet in Mexico, the location in which both men agreed the film should be shot. However, Traven did not show for their Mexico City rendezvous. A few days later, Huston, still south of the border, woke up in his hotel room to find a man standing at the foot of the bed. He presented Huston with a card that read: "Hal Croves, Translator, Acapulco and San Antonio." The mysterious Mr. Croves also produced a letter from Traven that explained his absence and instructed Huston to take on Croves as an advisor. The letter said that Traven had taken ill, but that Croves was his great friend and knew as much about Traven's work as he himself did, and was authorized to answer any questions Huston might have. Huston had wanted Traven and had induced the studio to pay him $1,000 a week for his services. Huston paid Croves only $150 a week. Huston was never completely sure if Croves and Traven were the same person, but recent scholarship has confirmed that they were indeed the same man.

by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Director John Huston had read the book The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven in 1936 and had always thought the material would make a great movie. Based on a nineteenth-century ballad by a German poet, Traven's book reminded Huston of his own adventures in the Mexican Cavalry. When Huston became a director at Warner Bros., starting with the smash success of The Maltese Falcon (1941), Huston asked to write and direct the project, which Warner Bros. had previously secured the movie rights.

B. Traven was the pen name of Berwick Traven Torsvan, AKA Ret Marut, Richard Maurhut, and Hal Croves. In Warner Bros. studio memos, Traven was not referred to by any of his many aliases, but as "some sort of spook" or "the phantom spook." Traven earned these monikers because he refused to sign any documents personally, opting instead to work through a Power of Attorney, usually Hal Croves. Many suspected at the time that Traven and Croves were one and the same person.

Huston was set to make the picture for Warner Bros. when the United States entered World War II. Huston's producer Henry Blanke insisted that the studio hold the material until Huston's release from the Armed Services. After the war, Huston wisely renewed his contract with B. Traven and through their correspondence started once again to plan The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. A meeting was arranged for Huston and Traven to meet in Mexico, the location in which both men agreed the film should be shot. However, Traven did not show for their Mexico City rendezvous. A few days later, Huston, still south of the border, woke up in his hotel room to find a man standing at the foot of the bed. He presented Huston with a card that read: "Hal Croves, Translator, Acapulco and San Antonio." The mysterious Mr. Croves also produced a letter from Traven that explained his absence and instructed Huston to take on Croves as an advisor. The letter said that Traven had taken ill, but that Croves was his great friend and knew as much about Traven's work as he himself did, and was authorized to answer any questions Huston might have. Huston had wanted Traven and had induced the studio to pay him $1,000 a week for his services. Huston paid Croves only $150 a week. Huston was never completely sure if Croves and Traven were the same person, but recent scholarship has confirmed that they were indeed the same man.

By Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

When John Huston first read the novel in 1936, he hoped some day he could film it with his father Walter in the lead role as Fred C. Dobbs. As the years passed, John realized that his father would no longer fit the part, but that he might be perfect as the grizzled prospector, wizened from years of experience with human nature. Once it came time for Huston to actually make the film, he had a hard time convincing his father, a matinee idol for 20 years, to take on the uncharacteristic role. Walter was concerned about his image, even though he said he'd do anything for his son's career. The veteran eventually agreed to the role, but his commitment was soon tested. When he first arrived on the set, John asked him to remove his false teeth and gum his way through the role. Now John had subjected Walter to practical jokes before on the set of The Maltese Falcon (1941), so Walter undoubtedly figured John was up to another one. But he wasn't. John actually did want Walter to remove his false choppers, a move virtually unheard of among image-conscious movie actors. Walter refused, and John and Humphrey Bogart literally held him down and pulled the teeth from his mouth. Walter stood up sputtering, angry at being forced to appear so undignified but also laughing at the way he sounded. John reasoned, "That's what I want for this role." The teeth stayed out.

As with most of the Mexican actors selected from the local population, Alfonso Bedoya's atrocious pronunciation of English proved to be a bit of a problem. Example: "horseback" came out as "whore's back." And speaking of language barriers, there were scenes in which Walter Huston had to speak fluent Spanish, a language he did not know off camera. To fill this need, John Huston hired a Mexican to record the lines, and then the elder Huston memorized them so well that many assumed he knew the language like a native. This is but one reason why Walter Huston was long regarded as an "actor's actor." Meanwhile, Humphrey Bogart only knew of two Spanish words, "Dos Equis," a Mexican beer.

John Huston and Humphrey Bogart did have a high old time playing practical jokes on the set of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. One of their favorite victims was Alfonso Bedoya, the Mexican actor who played the villainous bandit in the picture. Bedoya seemed to have a hollow leg when it came time for meals, gorging himself at every occasion with the food that Warner Bros. provided for the cast and crew. Bedoya took his meals very seriously, always being first when it came time to eat. Huston and Bogart took notice of this and decided to fix Bedoya by affixing strong glue to his saddled and stationary stuffed horse. Just before the lunch bell rang, Huston called Bedoya over to shoot some close-up takes. He hopped into the saddle, Huston shot a few scenes, and dinner was called. Everyone but Bedoya hit the food spread. Bedoya struggled to get off the horse but was held firmly in place by the glue. Bedoya's subsequent barrage of frantic sobbing and caterwauling so annoyed Huston that he soon ordered Bedoya's pants cut away from the saddle and the actor rushed off to stuff his face.

But Bedoya was not the only victim. Huston pulled a good one on Bogart in a scene where he has to reach under a rock for hidden gold and is told by another character that an extremely venomous Gila monster had crawled there. Little did Bogie know that Huston had put a mousetrap where he had to reach. Bogie, acting appropriately as if a Gila monster actually was under the rock, jumped several feet backwards when the mousetrap snapped on his finger.

Though the daily rushes impressed Warner Bros. studio mogul Jack Warner, he nearly went berserk with the weekly expenditures. After viewing one scene, Warner threw up his hands and shouted to producer Henry Blanke, "Yeah, they're looking for gold all right - mine!" During another screening of rushes, Warner watched Bogart stumble along in the desert for water. Warner jumped up in the middle of the scene and shouted to a gaggle of executives, "If that s.o.b. doesn't find water soon I'll go broke!" Warner had reason to be upset. Huston and Blanke led him to believe that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre would be an easy picture to make and that they would be in and out of Mexico in a matter of weeks. Because Warner was notorious for not actually reading scripts, he assumed the film was a B-movie Western. As the full extent of Huston's plans became apparent, Warner nearly blew a gasket. He was especially unhappy with the way the film ended, arguing that audiences wouldn't accept it. Ironically, Warner was correct, since the initial box office take was as impressive as fool's gold. But the film was a huge critical success and, in its many re-releases, it more than earned its original investment of $3 million.

Author B. Traven, AKA Hal Croves, did not agree with John Huston's decision to cast his father as Howard, the grizzled prospector. He originally envisioned MGM contract star Lewis Stone in the role, but he eventually came to see the wisdom behind the director's choice to put Walter Huston in the role.

Just as Huston was starting to shoot scenes in Tampico, Mexico, the production was shut down inexplicably by the local government. The cast and crew were at a complete loss to understand why, since the residents and government of Tampico had been so generous in days past. It turns out that a local newspaper printed a false story that accused the filmmakers of making a production that was unflattering to Mexico. Huston soon found out why the newspaper skewered him and his production in the funny papers; when you wanted to do anything in Tampico, it was customary to slide a little money toward the editor of the newspaper, something the crew failed to do. Fortunately, two of Huston's associates, Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias, went to bat for the director with the President of Mexico. The libelous accusations were dropped, and a few weeks later, the editor of the newspaper was caught in the wrong bed and shot dead by a jealous husband.

While on location, John Huston took a little Mexican boy named Pablo under his wing. The child ran errands for Huston and generally acted like the crew mascot. When it came time for Huston to close up shop in Mexico, he chose to adopt Pablo and brought him back to the United States to live with him and his second wife, actress Evelyn Keyes. You would think that Huston would have prepared Keyes for their new family member, but he didn't. That oversight precipitated their divorce a short time later. (There were a lot of other problems too. For details, read Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister: My Lively Life In and Out of Hollywood by Evelyn Keyes). Pablo was educated in the United States and eventually got married and had three children. But later Pablo deserted his family, returned to Mexico City, and became a used-car salesman.

The close friendship between John Huston and Humphrey Bogart was put to the test during the on-location shooting of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Eager to get back to his precious yacht "Santana" for a boat race, Bogart grew very impatient and very vocal with Huston's directorial decisions. Bogart's rants got to be quite obtrusive, until one night over dinner Huston put a stop to them. Bogie leaned over the table to make a point, and Huston reached out and took his nose between his first two fingers and closed them in a tight fist. Huston held the wincing Bogart's nose for a few moments, and then gave it one final twist before releasing it. Huston's point was made, Bogart learned his lesson, and the two resumed their close friendship as it once was.

By Scott McGee

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teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Time called the film "one of the best things Hollywood has done since it learned to talk...Walter Huston's performance is his best job in a lifetime of acting." The Theatre Arts, one of the most respected critical publications of its day, called Walter Huston's portrayal as the grizzled Howard finest performance ever given on the American screen. Indeed, the tall and lanky actor so immersed himself in the role that he physically appeared to be short, stocky, and stooped over. Bosley Crowther, the critic for the New York Times, wrote, "Huston has shaped a searching drama of the collision of civilization's vicious greed with the instinct for self-preservation in an environment where all the barriers are down." Probably the most glowing praise for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre came from the critic over at The Nation, Mr. James Agee. In his January 31, 1948 review, he declared John Huston, next only to Charlie Chaplin, as "the most talented man working in American pictures..." Agee later collaborated with Huston on The African Queen (1951), the film in which Humphrey Bogart won his only Academy Award®.

The most unexpected bit of praise came from Jack Warner himself in an August 1, 1947 telegram where he wrote that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was nothing less than the "greatest motion picture we have ever made. It is really one that we have always wished for." Humphrey Bogart was equally enthusiastic. Bogie whetted a newspaper critic's interest in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when he yelled to him outside a New York City club, "Wait till you see me in my next picture...I play the worst sh*t you ever saw!"

"John Huston's film, which won three Oscars, confounded the fears of those in the cinema trade who felt that a picture without any women would be a disastrous failure. It is enlivened by Huston's rich sense of irony, and by his observation of men forced through circumstance and greed to live together...Treasure of the Sierra Madre was indeed advertised as a Western, but the characterization is a good deal more intense than that, and one has to look back to Greed to find a film laying comparable emphasis on the disintegration of people faced with unexpected wealth." - Peter Cowie, Eighty Years of Cinema.

Awards & Honors

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award®, losing to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948). Surprisingly, Humphrey Bogart was not even nominated for his electrifying performance as Fred C. Dobbs. However, Walter Huston won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor and John Huston won Oscars® for Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay. Always a classy guy, Walter Huston thanked his son when the elder picked up his Academy Award at the podium. He said in his speech, "Many, many years ago, I raised a son, and I said to him, if you ever become a writer or a director, please find a good part for your old man. And he certainly did." This was the first time a father-son team won Oscars for the same film. In 1985, John Huston directed his daughter Angelica in Prizzi's Honor, for which she won Best Supporting Actress.

The same year The Treasure of the Sierra Madre racked up three Oscars®, Claire Trevor won the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress in Key Largo (1948), also directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. It was a very good year for Huston, Bogie, and Warner Bros. Studios.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre placed number thirty on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Best American Movies of All Time in 1998.

by Scott McGee

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teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, losing to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948). Surprisingly, Humphrey Bogart was not even nominated for his electrifying performance as Fred C. Dobbs. However, Walter Huston won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and John Huston won Oscars® for Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay. Always a classy guy, Walter Huston thanked his son when the elder picked up his Academy Award at the podium. He said in his speech, "Many, many years ago, I raised a son, and I said to him, if you ever become a writer or a director, please find a good part for your old man. And he certainly did." This was the first time a father-son team won Oscars® for the same film. In 1985, John Huston directed his daughter Angelica in Prizzi's Honor, for which she won Best Supporting Actress.

The same year The Treasure of the Sierra Madre racked up three Oscars, Claire Trevor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Key Largo (1948), also directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. It was a very good year for Huston, Bogie, and Warner Bros. Studios.

Time called the film "one of the best things Hollywood has done since it learned to talk...Walter Huston's performance is his best job in a lifetime of acting." The Theatre Arts, one of the most respected critical publications of its day, called Walter Huston's portrayal as the grizzled Howard finest performance ever given on the American screen. Indeed, the tall and lanky actor so immersed himself in the role that he physically appeared to be short, stocky, and stooped over. Bosley Crowther, the critic for the New York Times, wrote, "Huston has shaped a searching drama of the collision of civilization's vicious greed with the instinct for self-preservation in an environment where all the barriers are down." Probably the most glowing praise for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre came from the critic over at The Nation, Mr. James Agee. In his January 31, 1948 review, he declared John Huston, next only to Charlie Chaplin, as "the most talented man working in American pictures..." Agee later collaborated with Huston on The African Queen (1951), the film in which Humphrey Bogart won his only Academy Award.

The most unexpected bit of praise came from Jack Warner himself in an August 1, 1947 telegram where he wrote that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was nothing less than the "greatest motion picture we have ever made. It is really one that we have always wished for." Humphrey Bogart was equally enthusiastic. Bogie whetted a newspaper critic's interest in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre when he yelled to him outside a New York City club, "Wait till you see me in my next picture...I play the worst sh*t you ever saw!"

Humphrey Bogart had nothing but love and admiration for his good friend, John Huston. But Bogie also knew how to throw a backhanded compliment to Huston; he told an interviewer about Huston's exacting standards when shooting The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Bogie said, "John wanted everything perfect. If he saw a nearby mountain that could serve for photographic purposes, that mountain was not good; too easy to reach. If we could get to a location site without fording a couple of streams and walking through snake-infested areas in the scorching sun, then it wasn't quite right."

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre placed number thirty on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Best American Movies of All Time in 1998.

By Scott McGee

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teaser The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Many critics consider The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, released in 1948, to be director John Huston's finest cinematic offering, a gritty depiction of the cancerous effects of gold lust upon a man's soul. Yet there are countless films that deal with the subject matter of money and greed and the deadly combination the two can create. What makes this film stand out is the artistry behind the movie. From the direction of Huston, to the performances of Humphrey Bogart and Huston's father, Walter, to the stellar camera work of Ted McCord, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre achieves an uncompromising look into the dark side of human nature.

John Huston had first read the novel by B.Traven in 1936, and thought it would make a good film. He would have to wait ten years, however, due to World War II, but Warners' held the project for him at the insistence of producer Henry Blanke. Pre-production began promptly upon Huston's return to Hollywood, with a meeting arranged in Mexico between the director and the reclusive author B.Traven. Not much is known about Traven, other than an obsession with personal privacy, and this held true for the meeting in Mexico. A man calling himself Hal Croves appeared with a letter from the author instructing Huston to employ Croves as the film's advisor. Huston did so, and it readily became apparent that Croves and Traven were likely the same man; for whatever reasons, Traven was determined to protect his identity.

The action centers upon three men with one goal in mind but three different minds about it. The pursuit of gold in the hills of Mexico prompts these Americans to band together: two hard-luck cases, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), and a sage old-timer, Howard (Walter Huston). As their dreams start to materialize, human nature begins to tear the men apart. Bogart, in what many consider his greatest performance, gets an opportunity to shed his suave leading man image created seven years prior in The Maltese Falcon. His character undergoes a moral metamorphosis - from a congenial, average guy to a murderous monster gripped by paranoia. The elder Huston, having been a matinee idol for the last twenty years, was unsure of his ability to play the crusty prospector. It took heavy prodding by his son and the removal of his false teeth to produce the character for which Huston would capture the Best Supporting Actor Oscar® of 1948. His son also collected Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscars®, making it the only time in Academy history for son and father to win in the same year.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was one of the first American films to be made entirely on location, around the village of Jungapeo, Mexico. It was also expensive; the ever-growing budget topped out at three million, much to the consternation of Jack Warner. Insistent upon perfection, Huston plowed through his budget and slipped further behind schedule, prompting the first argument between the director and Bogart, now on their fourth collaboration. During this spat, Bogart, eager to wrap the film in order to attend a boat race in Honolulu, complained yet again to Huston. In response, Huston reached across the table, grabbed Bogart's nose between his two fingers and twisted hard. Tears came to the actor's eyes, but not one word was spoken, and Bogart never complained about the film schedule again. Huston knew he had a masterpiece on his hands and he would not be rushed.

It took twelve years, a spooked author, a toothless father, and a vicious tweak to Bogey's nose, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre opened to massive critical success and easily made its money back in its release and re-releases. Huston's dream was realized in an expertly crafted fable of desire and greed; plus, it achieves film history with the immortal quote by Gold Hat, "Badges? I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" Movies just don't get any better.

Director:John Huston
Producer:Henry Blake
Screenplay:John Huston, B. Traven (novel)
Cinematography:Ted D. McCord
Music:Max Steiner
Principle Cast:Humphrey Bogart (Fred C. Dobbs), Walter Huston (Howard), Tim Holt (Bob Curtin), Bruce Bennett (James Cody), Barton MacLane (Pat McCormick), Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat).
BW-127m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Eleanor Quin

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