Classic Movie Review: Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Two-Disc Special Edition)
“Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”

That line is a gold mine. It’s almost as versatile as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,  with the added benefit that if you say it loud enough, you sound awesome, instead of just precocious.

I had the pleasure last night of introducing a friend to Treasure of the Sierra Madre (actually to Humphrey Bogart movies in general, as well). And it occurred to me while watching it that a lot of my readers out there might not have seen the movie (voted as AFI’s #38 best film of all time). If you haven’t seen this film, then you owe it to yourself to rent it (or check it out from a certain library–hint hint.)

It focuses on Bogart, a down-on-his-luck drifter who’s desperate for money. He dreams up a plan to go pan for gold and strike it rich, even though he has no experience with the wilderness at all. He meets an acquaintance who decides to go in with him on the expedition, and they convince and old-timer to be their guide. Naturally, gold is found. But the movie isn’t really about striking it rich–it’s about the effect of money on people. The lack of it, the abundance of it–money money money. The old-timer (director John Huston’s father) has a quote that sums it up: “I know what gold does to men’s souls.”

If you’re not a regular classic movie watcher, then you need to realize going into this that the movie is paced differently from the adventure movies of today. There are fight scenes, there’s tension, but it’s a different rhythm, and you need to give it time to develop. Bogart has a superb performance–one of the best of his career, and really an iconic one at that. I don’t recall a more believable and disturbing descent into insanity and paranoia captured on film. Really great stuff.

In any case, give it a shot. The last time I’d seen it, I was in my young teens. This is a movie that gets better with age. Four stars.

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