The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
Genre: Action Adventure Drama Western
Starring: Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen; High Sierra) Tim Holt (My Darling Clementine; The Magnificent Ambersons)
Directed By: John Huston (Key Largo; The Maltese Falcon)
Overview: A couple of out-of-work men join up with an old prospector in hopes to mine some gold out of the Sierra Madre mountains, finding the fever a little too hard to beat.
Acting: This won many an award, including the Oscar for Best Director, as well as Best Supporting Actor, for the old prospector role, played by Walter Huston (Yankee Doodle Dandy; Dodsworth), who just so happens to be the director's father. If all the fancy awards don't impress you (and they shouldn't), then listen to me! Sierra Madre mixes the unrehearsed all-natural quirks of the Average Joe with just enough intensely dramatic and meticulously planned moments. This is nigh perfection!
Cinematography: I can't say it's filed with vast panoramas or great majestic art, but the action is great when it happens, the camerawork is professional and dynamic, and from time to time, we're graced with a shot that drives through the beauty or the paranoia of the moment.
Script: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"
Well this won many a Best Screenplay Award, including the Oscar. Consistently throughout the film, quotable quotes and monologue that run deep without being too obvious asides to the audience. As the film progresses, dialogue serves to open doors of possibility rather than confine a predictable ending. The script tells of the romanticism and fever of the gold hunt, the drama of failure and the danger that awaits. Not only do we understand the characters perfectly as unique and distinct people each with their own personal slant on this quest of theirs, but even the secondary characters, and the tidbits of understood Spanish make for one of the best stories ever told.
Plot: This has been given great acclaim by many a group, including being the American Film Institute's 30th film in their Top 100 List (my, my, I've seen 60 of them). This story eases into the quest, unrushed. We get a solid sense of the people involved before they all team up to search for the treasure itself. With a vast range of trials and tribulations that are as grand as any high adventure, from moral to survival, every scene is rich with character development. When the end does come, it's not predictable, in fact frustratingly so, which is amazing. What a hell of an ending too!
Mood: Humphrey Bogart, in any movie, is a sign of the times. Every other male actor out there must eventually compare themselves to such a legend. He isn't that attractive, he isn't even that great an actor (except in his own way, if you know what I mean), but anything he's in gets an edge. His mere presence makes the film important. In this we learn how humanity is fickle, how random chance can make or break striking it rich, how morality's grey area is wide indeed. This has it all: the danger, the humour, the depth of range and the solid story that keeps you guessing, all that and a good lesson or two along the way. Engrossing indeed.
Overall Rating: 90% (One Hell Of A Find! Mas! Mas!)
Aftertaste: A touch more trivia for you occasional readers who prefer the interesting to the opinionated:
The ever-referenced "Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!" is not a misquote, but is actually taken from Blazing Saddles, that lowbrow Mel Brooks film. I also personally recall Cheech's character in Weird Al Yankovick's UHF where the pet store delivers the wrong animal: "Badgers? Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers!" The film references I've read about number at around a dozen, and shows like "Miami Vice", "The A-Team" (probably Murdock) and "Third Rock From The Sun" also references this famous quote. The examples go on and on, and all told, when there's a whole website devoted to tracking down as many references as possible, it's certainly because there's a ton of them out there.
Finally now I know where it comes from, helping close the gap to achieving the rank of 'Number One Pop Reference Quote Guy'!