The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) is where the Huston Family Dynasty began. It was directed by John Huston and co-starred his father Walter Huston who went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting actor for his performance. John also walked away a big winner that year taking home the Oscar for Best Director and Best Screenplay. This was the beginning of something great that would trickle down to the younger generations including Anjelica and Danny Huston. The acclaim started in the mountains with three shattered men who try to find gold but end up losing themselves in the process.
Humphrey Bogart stars as Dobbs, an unemployed street urchin who cooks up a plan with his younger, good-hearted partner Curtin, and the older, wiser Howard to head for the hills in search of gold. Howard has already found and lost his own fortune and knows the dangers that wealth can bring but aids the men despite his reservations.
They eventually begin to find gold and collect a hefty sum but instead of quitting while they’re ahead at the suggestion of Howard, Dobbs insists that they look for more. The richer they get the more paranoid they become and Dobbs begins to teeter on the line of insanity. In the end he loses something that’s worth a lot more than money and his two traveling companions realize that they’re no better off in their current situation than they were when they started.
Huston’s portrayal of Howard was the backbone of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He was the voice of reason out of the group but he always seemed slightly unhinged. Throughout the film you want to believe that he’s a good guy but there’s always something in the back of your mind that wonders if he can be trusted. That balancing act is what earned him his Oscar. Bogart on the other hand pulled off some exciting scenes that had him travel to dark places. Anyone who’s ever thought of him as that polished mobster or gumshoe needs to watch this film you’ll see the actor in a whole new light.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a wonderful illustration of what can happen when man falls into the trap of selfishness and greed. It’s filled with wonderful performances, has a great story, and is arguably one of the best films that John Huston has ever directed.