“Star Of The Month (November 2021)” Featuring Humphrey Bogart in… The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)

We’re here for another film with this month’s Star, Humphrey Bogart! It’s the classic 1948 drama The Treasure Of the Sierra Madre, which also stars Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bruce Bennett!

Coming Up Shorts! with… 8 Ball Bunny (1950)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 8 seconds)

A penguin accidentally gets left behind by the Ice Frolics, and runs into Bugs Bunny as he attempts to catch up. So, Bugs volunteers to help him get home… to the SOUTH POLE!?!? (“Ooh, I’m dying!”) This is a fun classic Bugs cartoon, as he deals with all the trouble of trying to get the penguin south. More fun is added by the appearance of a Humphrey Bogart character, specifically Dobbs from The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (which makes this a PERFECT extra for that movie). All in all, this one is quite entertaining (and VERY much hilarious), making it one that I just love to come back to!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hot Cross Bunny (1948)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 10 seconds)

A doctor plans to experiment by switching the brains of a chicken and a rabbit. Of course, you can guess that the rabbit is none other than Bugs Bunny, and he wants to keep his brain right where it is! Another familiar cartoon, with all the fun that comes from Bugs dealing with the doctor, first via examination, and then him trying to escape the experiment. It’s a fun (and funny!) cartoon, and I know always get a kick out of it when I see it!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Want To Be A Detective (1948)

(Available as an extra on the The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 10 minutes, 53 seconds)

Joe McDoakes (George Hanlon), or maybe I should say Phillip Snarlowe, private eye, is searching for a killer. I’m not a huge fan of the Joe McDoakes series, but I will admit that this is one of the better ones that I’ve seen so far! With the story being told from the viewpoint of narrator Art Gilmore (literally being told that way, as the story is being shown in first-person view from his character’s standpoint), this adds a lot to the fun! The gags come fast and furious, from a dead girl in Snarlowe’s filing cabinet, to the “Tall Man,” to the “boys” that come to cause trouble for a big mobster. This one was worth quite a few laughs, and is one of the few from the Joe McDoakes series that I would thoroughly enjoy revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1925 in Tampico, Mexico. A pair of destitute Americans, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt) find work in the oil fields under Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane). When they finish up and return to Tampico, McCormick goes off to get their paychecks, leaving them with a little drinking money. When the two men overhear somebody else at the bar telling about how McCormick cheats his workers out of their paychecks, they go to a flophouse to spend the night, and listen to tales of gold prospecting being told by Howard (Walter Huston). The next day, Dobbs and Curtin are considering Howard’s stories when they spy McCormick, and angrily demand their money. When he tries to get out of it again, they get into a physical altercation in which they come out on the wining side, and take the money that was owed them. Coming back around to the idea of gold prospecting, they turn to Howard for help (since they have no idea what supplies they would need). They pool all their money, and after buying some supplies and burros, they make their way toward the Sierra Madre mountains. The journey proves treacherous, and the younger, more inexperienced prospectors have a hard time keeping up with the much older Howard. Just when Dobbs and Curtin are ready to give up, Howard reveals that he’s found the best place for them to prospect for gold. They set up camp at the base of a mountain, and start digging. Their pile of gold starts to build, and they start dividing it up. Greed starts to get the better of them, but Dobbs in particular succumbs to it, as he grows ever more suspicious of his partners. After Curtin has to go to a nearby town for supplies, he is followed by another gold-hunting American named James Cody (Bruce Bennett). Once Cody arrives at their camp, he decides to stay, and asks for a share in all the gold they find from now on. However, Dobbs and Curtin decide he can’t be trusted, and decide to kill him. Before they can do anything, though, Cody spots a band of Mexican bandits nearby, who are looking for the group (mainly because they need some guns, and they heard in the village about Curtin, who was claiming to be a hunter in the area). They get into a gunfight with the bandits (led by Gold Hat, as played by Alfonso Bedoya), which ends when a group of federal soldiers catches up to the bandits, forcing them to make a run for it. However, Cody was killed in the fight, so the three men decide to bury him. Not much later, they find themselves getting less and less gold from the mountain, so they decide to call it quits, and try to restore the mountain as much as possible. On their trip back to Durango, they are met by a local group of Native Americans who are seeking medical help for one of their boys who had fallen into water and hadn’t come to yet. Howard goes to help them out, and when the boy is awakened, the people all ask him to stay while they honor him. Dobbs and Curtin, meanwhile, continue the trip, bringing along Howard’s burros and gold so that they can get their money for it in Durango. However, Dobbs, whose greed has been showing itself, not only in refusing to give a fourth of his gold to Cody’s widow and child (whereas Curtin and Howard were willing), he now considers just taking Howard’s gold as well. Curtin disagrees, but now Dobbs is suspicious that Curtin wants to off him and get HIS gold. Will these two men make it to Durango safely, or will gold fever finish one (or both) of them off?

While The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre made it to theaters in 1948, the movie itself was being considered nearly a decade earlier. John Huston (the film’s eventual director) had read the 1935 book by B. Traven in 1936, and thought it would make a great movie. By the time he became a director (with 1941’s The Maltese Falcon), Warner Brothers had already bought the film rights, and he asked for (and was given) the opportunity to direct it. However, the U.S. entered World War II, and Huston served in the Armed Services (making films). After the war, Huston came back to work on The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, corresponding with the book author B. Traven and being advised by the author’s “friend” Hal Croves (whom most sources claim was actually Traven himself). The movie was shot on location near Jungapeo, Mexico. When he first read the book, Huston had thought about casting his father, Walter Huston, in the role of Fred C. Dobbs, but, as time went on (and his father got older), that idea wasn’t as realistic, and so he decided to cast his father as the older Howard (and forced him to remove his false teeth for the role). Studio head Jack Warner was famously very unhappy with the way that filming was dragging on, as he felt it was costing him a lot of money. He also didn’t like the ending, and thought audiences wouldn’t accept it as is. Initially, he was right, as the film didn’t do too well, but that changed with the film’s re-releases over the years as it gained in popularity.

I will readily admit, that I’ve seen this movie a number of times over the years (and it was one of the earliest Bogart films that I saw, alongside The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca). I took a liking to it on that first time, and my opinion of the movie has stayed high over the years! Humphrey Bogart in particular makes this movie great, as he gives us a performance in which he (like many of us) thinks that gold fever wouldn’t affect him at all (or so he promises). However, Howard’s warnings get in his head, and his greed gets the better of him (with a few moments of near redemption in between). It’s a different role than some of what he had done earlier, but he is so effective that I can’t complain! The movie manages the drama well, and even throws in a bit of humor as well, particularly the moment spoofed in the Bugs Bunny cartoon 8 Ball Bunny with Bogart’s Dobbs pestering a stranger for money (with the stranger played by the film’s director, a fact I didn’t realize until I was reading about this film for this post in one of those “You learn something new every day”-type of things). I do know the film was remade (to a degree) a few years later as an episode in the first season of the Warner Brothers TV western Cheyenne, which I thought was fun (but nowhere near as good as this movie). Seriously, this movie is among the greats (for good reason!) and I have no problem whatsoever in recommending it myself!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video

Film Length: 2 hours, 6 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dark Passage (1947)Humphrey BogartRoad To Bali (1952)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Walter Huston

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