The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

AFI Rank: #30
Year Released: 1948
Director: John Huston
Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, Walter Huston

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre strongly deserves the #30 ranking it got on the AFI top 100. It's set during the Depression when out-of-work men might try anything to stay fed. Two men - Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt - try their luck in Mexico, willing to do even rough work to get by. They're taken advantage of by an unscrupulous boss, and have to beat him up to get paid. Humphrey is still honest about it, though. Even when he has a handful of bills taken from the downed guy's wallet, he only takes what they were fairly owed.

The two run into Walter Huston, an aged prospector who gets them excited about gold fever. Walter warns them that gold can change a man, but they scoff, saying they are not men who would be altered. They agree they'll get just a base amount of gold to meet their needs, then get out.

Off they go into the mountains. What follows is a fascinating look into just how wealth changes a person. The characters are great - from Humphrey's obsessions to Tim's temptations and Walter's careful attention to how the men are altering before his eyes. It's immensely intriguing to watch, and you're never quite sure which way things are going to go.

There are some great lines in here, including the basis for the oh-so-popular "We don't need no stinkin' badges"! On the other hand, there are some iffy uses of "natives" for plot devices.

The movie is very solidly a "male tale". The one and only female who speaks in the movie appears to be a prostitute and is on screen for maybe 20 seconds while the boss is being confronted by Humphrey and Tim. That's it. So this clearly fails the Bechdel test. It's a shame to see just how many movies in the top 100 movies have this issue.

A great character study, and a great role for Bogart. Well recommended.

Buy The Treasure of the Sierra Madre from Amazon.com

AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100