1.37:1, 1948, english, united states
“Do you believe that stuff the old man was saying the other night at the Oso Negro about gold changin' a man's soul so's he ain't the same sort of man as he was before findin' it?”

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

A well executed film about not knowing what temptation can do to you. It manages to make its point without spelling everything out for you. Not amazing but definitely worth watching.

This is a film about temptation and greed. The kind of temptation that happens when a man suddenly sees infinite possibility staring him in the face. When he sees an opportunity to get everything he ever wanted and suddenly he’s doing things he never would have done before. The kind that leads him to lose sight of everything he believes in, filling his head with jealousy and suspicion, until he becomes capable of anything, even murder.

The story here is of two American men, living in 1920’s Mexico and down on their luck, who decide to try their hands at prospecting for gold. They find an older, more experienced, prospector to head out with them, and laugh off his warnings about how they might change if they succeed. They swear up and down that they’re good, honest, men, who only want a fair shake in life. Then they find gold in the mountains and everything gets complicated. Two of the men remain basically exactly as they were. But the third man, played brilliantly by Humphrey Bogart, starts to succumb to all the worst things the prospector warned them about. He starts to lose his mind and, eventually, becomes a danger to himself and to his companions.

It’s a fascinating look at what can happen when people are presented with this type of situation. Like in Aladdin, this is a test of character and will. As I was watching the film I began to wonder, naturally, what I would be like in a similar situation. In a situation with that much at stake. Of course I think I’d remain myself, stay true to my word and the ideals I have now. But, as this film shows, there’s just no way to know. Maybe the gold would drive me crazy too, have me justifying all kinds of horrible behavior. I suppose the only way to know for sure is to actually find out, but do you really want to take that kind of risk? It’s an interesting question and the film deals with it nicely.

The whole thing is well done. The cinematography and acting are good and the story is full of interesting twists and turns. My favorite moment might be seeing three grown men say thank you to a mountain. It’s a random dose of humor during an otherwise tense period in the story and it’s definitely appreciated. I enjoyed this film and it’s going to keep me thinking for a while, what more can you ask from Hollywood than that?