July 7, 2016


Classics: The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre

“The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre” stars Humphrey Bogart in one his greatest performances as Dobbs—a man who plummets into greed laden paranoia.

Set in Mexico, Dobbs is an American beggar who meets and bonds with another down-and-out American, Curtin played by Tim Holt. The two men struggle to survive, begging for pesos and looking for labor, as they find themselves susceptible to con artists.

They stay at a Old Oso Negro…

…where they come in contact with an old prospector. Howard, played by Walter Huston who tells stories of his days as a prospector, digging for gold.

And it’s clear that he still longs for those days. But he also shares his experiences about fellow prospectors who’ve done bad things in the name of greed.

And here is where the story begins. Dobbs convinces Howard to take them gold digging. Though, it didn’t take much convincing. Walter Huston played the role with incredible charm and a laugh that brightens up the screen. His personality offered a great contrast to the seriousness of Dobbs impending insanity.

The three men trek through dangerous territory, inhabited by bandits. Until, Howard finds a great spot where all their dreams are about to come true.

But as the story progresses and the gold mounts up, Dobbs sees everything and everyone around him differently. The madness was an impressive thing to to watch and one can’t help but be glued to the screen waiting on the outcome.



Between the time Howard first tells Dobbs and Curtin about prospecting AND the time Dobbs convinces Howard to go with them, both Dobbs and Curtin have a private conversation.

“Do you believe what that old man, who was doing all the talking at the Old Oso Negro, said the other night about Gold changing a man’s soul so that he ain’t the same kind of a guy as he was before finding it.” - Dobbs

“I guess it all depends on the man.” - Curtin

“…Gold don’t carry any curse with it… Gold could be as much of a blessing as a curse.” - Dobbs

I ask myself, was it clear that Dobbs had it in him to descend into what he would become? Was he always this way or did he just flip out?

From how the story progressed, it was clear to me that Dobbs was a good guy. Plus, Howard (the voice of reason) said so even after all that had gone down. Before they left for digging, the three men discussed how much money they needed for supplies. Curtin fell short of the amount.

But Dobbs had won last night’s lottery and, without hesitation, offered to cover Curtin’s share of the expenses. So deep inside, he started out very honest with a hint of selflessness.

So how did he change?

One thing that is very consistent with Dobbs is his susceptibility to suggestion. When one guy mentioned a job, he quickly took it… okay, sure, he needed the work; but there’s something more.

The moment Howard talks about prospecting, it took all of a couple of minutes for Dobbs to get that glint in his eye. He wanted a piece of that action.  

Fast forward to the men finding gold and dividing it up into threes…

Howard shared another of his stories. He mentioned that some men like to hide their stash for fear that the other guys might steal from them. This triggered Dobbs hiding his portion of the gold under a rock. Though, Curtin did also. Both men unable to sleep, fearing the other would hunt for their stash. Howard didn’t seem to worry much. He slept fine, not getting involved in all this paranoia. And it felt like Curtin’s actions were in response to Dobbs.

But would Dobbs have hid his stash had Howard not put the idea in his mind? We won’t know the answer, of course. But I suspect, it would have taken a bit longer to get to that stage.

His change escalated when he brought up the money he put up for Curtin’s share. He felt he should get a bigger part of the gold than Curtin. But when Curtin offered gold, not just equal but more than what was given to him, Dobbs took it and dumped it on the ground as if to say he didn’t want it. Dobbs is teetering here… from greed back to normalcy.

But there came a point when he was too far gone.

Lack of water

Dehydrating is never good for anyone. It makes people see things that aren’t there. Now rewind a moment, there was a moment (before his madness), when Dobbs thought he found gold and splashed rocks with water to get a closer inspection of the sparkles. But it was fool’s gold instead and Howard gave him a warning.

“Water’s precious. Sometimes it’s more precious than gold.” - Howard

Add this to Dobbs’ building greed and paranoia and you can see his madness growing.

Why water didn’t affect Curtin that way? Each person is different. Dobbs was rather hyper and he was already weak of mind.

**end spoiler**


“The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre” was a fascinating study on the affects of greed lead by an accomplished actor. And the ending was both satisfying and tension-filled.

 Score 10/10


About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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