8-14 June 2009

June 19 2009 at 7:04 am (The list)

films-treasure-sierra-madre-posterThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Paul Thomas Anderson cited this film as his chief inspiration of his magnum opus There Will Be Blood and it’s easy to see why. John Huston’s adaptation of mysterious writer B. Traven’s 1927 novel, is as exciting as it is unnerving and plays as a cautionary tale on the dangers of wealth and greed.

In 1920s Mexico, struggling Americans Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) befriend wise old Howard (Walter Huston) and together they set off to find their fortune in gold on the Sierra Madre mountains. On the way they encounter bandits and deal with a fellow avaricious American, and soon enough the cracks in their friendship show through as they are consumed by greed and mistrust.

This masterpiece is justly one of only 500 justly selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.’ Perhaps most significantly, it is an exhilarating classic action adventure (it’s easy to see a bit Indiana Jones in Bogart’s rugged Dobbs) that is actually about something worth saying. ‘As long as there’s no find, the noble brotherhood will last, but when the piles of gold begin to grow… that’s when the trouble starts,’ says Howard.

Although it’s filled with action, there’s still room for brilliant performances especially from Bogart who becomes more and more paranoid. The scene in which he maniacally talks himself to sleep after shooting his friend, with the hellish campfire licking the screen is particularly creepy. But it was Walter Huston, the director’s father, who would walk away with an Oscar for his performance as the enthusiastic Howard. His son picked up Oscars for directing and writing, which remains the only instance in which a father and son have won Academy Awards in the same year – a fitting tribute to an excellent film.

Rating: 5/5

Shame list total: 1,211

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