John Huston won the Academy Award for writing and directing this powerful saga that pits gold and greed in the wilds of Mexico and stars his father (Walter Huston) and Humphrey Bogart.
Everyone knows that I like a good gimmick. If it can make a film stand out in some unique way, then the novelty isn’t lost on me (and, no, 3D doesn’t count! ). Frankly, with the number of films that I watch, I frequently need something out of the ordinary to pique my interest, aside from a simple title or some artwork.
In fact, the gimmick is the only reason why I watched ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’.
I picked it up recently because the special edition DVD features a ‘Warner Night at the Movies’ setting that starts off the film with a few shorts, including some newsreels, a Bugs Bunny cartoon and other goodies. It essentially re-creates a night out at the cinema, as they did it back in 1948 (minus the popcorn, of which I popped an abundance).
I was quite fond of the idea of seeing a film this way. Granted, I could possibly put it together myself, but it would require much research and time to get it right. But here it was, all packaged for me, for a mere 8$. And there’s a second DVD with a full-length documentary on director/actor John Huston – so, as a film buff, I was truly getting my money’s worth.
While the film itself hasn’t left a huge impression on me, it was well worth seeing; it’s a very good drama about dreamers who get caught up in a lot more than their dreams could anticipate.
Humphrey Bogart played a role that I’ve never seen him in (mind you, I’ve only seen a few of his films). He portrays a simpleton who is struggling to make a living, but can’t seem to find a paying gig. Out of desperation, and following a few strokes of good fortune, he rounds up enough funds to go off treasure-hunting, looking for gold.
There was a Shakespearian quality to the film, what with Bogart’s character Dobbs slowly losing his mind with distrust and avarice. I rather enjoyed that part of the film, because it helped to make it stand out from similar stories. It’s also a tragic tale and, even though Bogart’s our lead (one of two, actually), things don’t turn out quite as we’d initially imagine.
I loved that ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ didn’t wrap everything up in a traditional Hollywood way, staying away from conventions. I’ve seen this type of film before, and they usually always go down the same route. Without going into details, for fear of revealing too much, I think that the filmmakers did a fine job of giving this picture its own special flavour.
As good as it is, however, it’s the kind of film that doesn’t have much replay value for me. The performances are fairly realistic for the era but no one truly fascinated me, the drama is potent but maybe a little too familiar, and it simply didn’t grip me the way you’d expect it to. The ending, of course, really didn’t help – as ironic as it was (and I love a good ironic twist!), it was put together weakly and could have been better thought out.
As for a ‘Night at the Movies’, I quite enjoyed it as an experience – more so than for its content, which was on the vacuous side. The Bugs Bunny short was fun, though, and I’d still recommend watching the film this way, since it puts it into context. Honestly, I’m rather eager to watch ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ now, seeing as the Blu-ray offers a similar option.