Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


Dir: John Huston (The Maltese Falcon; Key Largo; The African Queen; The List of Adrian Messenger; Annie; Prizzi's Honor)

It goes without saying that this film is an essential for anyone who is cinema or pop culture savvy. It is also a tremendous movie, with directing and writing Oscar's going to Huston. A classic (I mean, ancient) tale of hubris and greed updated for a modern age, Sierra Madre combines archetypal character study with the lawlessness of a Western.

While Walter Huston (John's father) took home the Oscar for his supporting role as the grizzled and wise prospector, even more impressive is Bogart as the paranoid but confident fortune seeker who feels the strongest effects from the party's quest for gold. His transformation is extremely compelling, not wide eyed running around the room insanity but more an assertion of his latent psychopathic qualities that are alluded to in the film's first half-hour. It would be easy to put some people in the mountains and let them go crazy, but the character development before the obstacles arise is what separates this film from lesser ones.

An intelligent, very well acted and written Western/thriller. Certainly in the array of the greatest films ever made, and I would not laugh at someone who tried to make that claim.