Following a trio of gold prospectors who seek out to strike it rich, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, in my humble opinion, is a nearly flawless psychological drama. Without knowing much about this film going into it, I was pleasantly surprised at all of the magnificent details that held my attention until the closing credits. The harsh landscape, the distinct characters, the shootouts, even the details about gold prospecting helped to paint an immensely interesting picture throughout. The most impressive piece of the film, however, is Humphrey Bogart's portrayal of a man descending into madness. I was completely riveted, angered, and troubled by his growing unease and intensity.
The character known as Curtin, adeptly portrayed by Tim Holt, was heartbreaking in his earnestness to do right by himself and his friends. He had opportunity after opportunity to bring harm to Bogart's character Dobbs, but always chose to be the bigger man. He never had a dishonest intention, and yet he was the character who was the most put upon.
Old man Howard, played by Walter Huston, was equally engaging. I have to confess, however, that I had to turn on the subtitles throughout his dialogue. He speaks a million miles a minute, but it plays perfectly to his crazy old kook persona.
Bogart, of course, deserves the majority of acting accolades here. His turn from an honest, engaging guy into a paranoid, deceitful crook was pure brilliance. I have to assume that Director John Huston helped bring out this brilliance.
While this film isn't in my typical top choice genre, I was extremely impressed with what Director John Huston put together. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre takes what could have been a humdrum story about panning for gold and turned it into a fascinating character study, with plenty of twists, turns and unexpected action along the way.