If you’re an Australian aged 10 or over then you’ve probably, at least once in your life, employed the resources of a large sheet of cardboard, the prevailing reference source at the time (in my case, Encarta ’95) and a generous helping of glitter, to create a project on Australia’s Gold Rush. You may have even ventured to Ballarat (or similar) to try your hand at panning for the stuff.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll remember little about the Gold Rush itself. You were far too engrossed in creating the perfect bubble writing (which would take up at least one third of the sheet of cardboard, leaving you with far less space to fill with researched information).
Now, I’m not entirely sure what my point is, except that this movie transported me all the way back to those days. ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ tells the story of a band of prospectors quite successfully mining for gold during The Americas’ own Gold Rush.
The movie stars Humphrey Bogart, about whom I know very little except that he likes to smoke, wear hats, and look at kids…
There is a lot to love about this film and it only gets better as you go along. If you can look past the seriously annoying MacGuffin of a convenient lotto win, mildly offensive Mexican stereotypes, and an overtly awkward staged fight scenes, then you’ll be off to a good start.
Bob Curtin: You know, the worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it’ll be before it’s happened.
The best part about this film is the way it surprises you. I’ve watched a lot of movies now and predictability has become par for the course. Predictability is one thing this film does not suffer from. I’d go so far as to say there are some downright shocking moments and, while it’s not bathed in blood like ‘Django’, I suggest any Tarantino fans out there give this film a go. Unfortunately censors at the time (1948) banned some of the more Tarantino-esque graphic scenes in the film, but even in black and white I’m sure you’ll still get a feeling for the blood and violence (if that’s what you’re into).
If blood and gore isn’t your thing then you’ll probably still be happy with this movie. Just ignore the few violent scenes and imagine that ‘Howard’ is ‘The Prospector’ from Toy Story 2. It really isn’t so violent anyway. If anything, I’d place it in the “mystery” category; Lots of finger-pointing and a whole lot of suspense. (Then again, it’s been a couple of weeks now since I watched it so my memory may be failing me!)
In any event, the movie has a strong moral message about greed that cannot be overlooked. The message is simple: we humans seem to be insatiable. Once we have something, we ask only “how much more can we get?” Satisfaction is not our strong suit. While Dobbs exhibits the jealousy that so often comes along with greed, his partners are equally to blame when it comes to staying past their bedtime in gold-digging terms. It’s safe to say the greedy ones get their just deserts.
Now, having left it far too long to write this review I’m running short of further comments and the notes on my iPhone now make little, if any, sense. For that reason, I will add just one other thing to my review…
If you do watch this film (and I hope you do), please tell me whether I’m crazy… or whether you, too, hear kookaburras laughing in the Mexican desert!
Have you seen ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.