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Author Topic: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) - No Badges Needed to Enter -  (Read 12873 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2010, 01:40:32 PM »

Damn titoli, now you've made me want to see this again. Wink

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« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2010, 01:44:11 PM »

I will watch it again tomorrow, see if anything changes.

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« Reply #32 on: October 11, 2010, 02:47:00 PM »

Apparently my remarks on the burros raised a huckus...

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« Reply #33 on: October 11, 2010, 03:23:12 PM »

I saw it again and yes, it fares beeter in the original language, a decent master and a big screen. Still there are problems, the main being the Bogart character. Bogart doesn't manage to make him credible and all the plot turning points hang on him. He's credible only in the first scenes, expecially that of buying the lottery ticket. Then one wonders what kind of a character is one who can dedicate 1 year of toil to earn some money  and then becoming crazy for no reason. He cannot of course simply reveal his inner self because that wouldn't square with his previous behaviour. And Bogart ios at his worst enhancing all the character's inconsistencies, opning wide his eyes, grimaces all over his face (the same mistake he made in High Sierra and Petrified Forest: I should rewatch it, but he finally understood the way to play a psychotic character only in Mutiny of Caine). And then some other inconsistencies like why Holt does give him back his gun or doen't tie him to a tree at night, like anybody else would do. And again, why Bogart, so taken up with money fever, just doesn't shoot  the three mexicans.

Some might object that Bogart actually tries to shoot down the mexicans but finds that his gun is empty. But that doesn't square with Bogart's previous psichotic dedication in planning Holt's murder and, even more, getting rid of the corpse: that should make us presume that Bogart checks continuously if his gun is loaded and if somebody is in ambush. And then all his pointed arguing with Holt about stealing and murdering it rhymes with Huston sr. predictions about the effect of gold on men but not with Bogart's character as we know it before the prospecting starts. Sure, some hint is given that the character is slightly paranoic, but that may develop in such a violent psychosis is hard for me to swallow. And even more hard to swallow is the fact that his two companions do little to prevent the possible effects. What I mean is that the character is inconsistent for plot's sake and that Bogart is unable to understand that he shuld have played those inconstinncencies down instead of enhancing them.. 

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2010, 03:01:17 PM »

I learned in a documentary last night that Huston made at least one significant change to the story, making Curtain, played by Tim Holt in the film, more savory than he was in the book. The chief reason for this change, apparently, was to generate dramatic interest by providing greater contrast between Curtain and Dobbs. But this also changed the meaning of the story, which, from what I understand, was originally something of a Marxian object lesson.

If Traven's intention was to demonstrate the inevitable, debilitating effects of gold fever, then Huston's movie wanders from that thesis. Rather, the central question the film poses is this: does gold lust determine character, or merely reveal it?

That is the very question Dobbs puts to Curtain the morning after the two younger men have met the old prospector for the first time. Would a large gold strike, Dobbs wonders, actually cause a man to change? “All depends on the man,” Curtain answers. That seems to be the philosophy of the film, and that's the philosophy that Dobbs also espouses, confident that he's the kind of man who can withstand temptation. But of course he's kidding himself.

The contradictions in Dobbs that titoli sees may simply be the result of Huston not adequately translating the character from Traven's conception to his own. On the other hand, they could just as easily be indicators of a personality under stress. When a character acting in bad faith comes up against the intractable world, contradictions are the first things to manifest.

Then Huston's use of Curtain provides more than a—perhaps unbelievably stark—contrast to Dobbs. His very presence indicts Dobbs. Curtain has experienced all that Dobbs has, but responds, not by degenerating into paranoia, but by developing new reserves of strength and tolerance. The gold fever never really possesses him. At the end he's content to let the gold dust blow away as he rides off to pick fruit with Cody's widow.

But if Curtain can come through with his soul intact, then why not Dobbs? Either he was corrupt all along, or was too weak to resist the gold-induced madness. Either way, the gold is not the issue—fundamental character traits are.

None of this answers titoli's objections. Does the film make concessions for the convenience of its plot? Undoubtedly. Does Bogart considerably overplay his role? Absolutely. Bogart was an actor with limited utility, whose acting was best employed when under restraint. Unhappily, he first made a splash with The Petrified Forest, and thereafter was seen as the go-to guy for performances requiring over-the-top nut-jobs. Titoli mentions High Sierra, but, even after becoming a leading man, Bogie was still in demand to play psychos (cf. The Two Mrs. Carrols, Conflict). Again, titoli is right to approve Bogart's later performance in The Caine Mutiny; he could have pointed to In a Lonely Place as well (although in that case he was not playing a psycho, but a guy with anger issues). Yes, Bogie developed as an actor—perhaps he also got better parts and worked for better directors. Perhaps another actor could have done better work with the Dobbs role--Walter Huston, for example.

Even with these objections acknowledged, the film is more interesting than other adventure films of its era. The use of  authentic locations is one selling point, but also the attention paid to the details of prospecting. You always feel that Walter Huston's character really knows what he's talking about. There  is also the judicious use of Spanish speaking characters in a Spanish speaking country (practically unheard of in Hollywood films of the time). Max Steiner's music is good too, and Huston knows when not to use it—the cantina fistfight is made all the more realistic by the silence underscoring it (none of that John Ford BS here). And needless to say, the film doesn't suffer from Rhonda Fleming Syndrome. Even Red River, released the same year, can't boast all these exemplary features.

Let's take a point off for some liberties taken with the plot, and shave another one for Bogie's scenery chewing. That would still leave us with a score of 8/10. More than respectable for a film of its period.

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« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2010, 05:15:00 PM »

What about the burros? 

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Groggy
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« Reply #36 on: October 12, 2010, 05:30:05 PM »

They go good with salsa and Monterry Jack cheese.

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« Reply #37 on: October 13, 2010, 05:45:37 AM »

Didn't have the time to re-watch it yesterday, perhaps today. Cry

... 8/10. More than respectable for a film of its period.

lol, wth does this mean? I don't remember hearing this sort of jive, say, while you were talking about Yellow Sky...

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #38 on: October 13, 2010, 07:59:19 AM »

Well, do you think a good 40s adventure picture is as exciting/interesting/what-have-you as, say, a good 60s adventure pic?

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« Reply #39 on: October 13, 2010, 08:40:52 AM »

A masterpiece is always a masterpiece. Almost the same thing with the so called ''good movies''. Cult Movies, genre movies and such flicks get corroded by time (because the waves they ride on hit the shore), great movies don't. I am not in any way responsible for those that generalize and/or cannot understand that distinction.

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« Reply #40 on: October 13, 2010, 08:46:44 AM »

A masterpiece is always a masterpiece. Almost the same thing with the so called ''good movies''. Cult Movies, genre movies and such flicks get corroded by time (because the waves they ride on hit the shore), great movies don't. I am not in any way responsible for those that generalize and/or cannot understand that distinction.
Excuse me, but isn't The Treasure of Sierra Madre a genre flick?

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« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2010, 08:49:30 AM »

Excuse me, but isn't The Treasure of Sierra Madre a genre flick?

Which genre does it belong to - adventure? It doesn't favor any genre over another, and thus it is not a strict genre movie by most definitions.

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« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2010, 08:51:30 AM »

Excuse me, but isn't The Treasure of Sierra Madre a genre flick?

Which "genre" would that be?

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« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2010, 12:15:54 PM »

Which genre does it belong to - adventure?
That's what I was thinking about. But my real point was that "genre movies get corroded by time, great movies don't" is a rather bold and simplifying statement - especially to be made on Sergio Leone Web Board  Evil

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2010, 03:38:17 PM »

Can't a genre picture also be a masterpiece? As in, you know, Leone's films?

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