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THE TREASURE
OF THE SIERRA MADRE

Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?

Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges.
I don't have to show you any stinking badges.

In Humphrey Bogart’s cannon of film roles, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE ($25) is certainly one of his most atypical and one of his greatest. In THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, Bogart portrays Fred C. Dobbs, a down on his luck American looking for work in Mexico. Dobbs eventually hooks up with fellow American Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), and while the duo manages to find short-term employment, they are almost cheated out of the salaries by a crooked businessman. After taking the money they are owed, Dobbs and Curtain decide to team up with an old prospector named Howard (Walter Huston) to go in search of gold in the nearby mountains.

Although neither Dobbs nor Curtain have any experience in prospecting, Howard more than makes up for his new partner’s shortcomings, eventually leading them to a rich vein of gold high up in the mountains. After months of working their find, the three manage to pull more than a tidy sum of gold out of the ground, but the harsh conditions and the new found wealth begin to take their toll on Dobbs, who begins to get greedy and then shows signs of paranoia. Further complicating matters is the arrival of another prospector, looking to grab a share of the gold and a band of Mexican bandits that would kill them all just to steal their shoes. The cast of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE also features Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya and a very young Robert Blake.

The is no denying that THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is one of the finest motion pictures ever made- ranking in the number 30 spot on the AFI list of the 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time. This gritty and realistic film was very different from the kinds of movies that were generally being turned out by the major studios in 1948. John Huston took home Academy Awards for both his writing and direction of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and his insistence on the realism of location shooting, instead of using the back lot, is one of the reasons that this movie is an enduring classic. Another is Bogart’s powerful performance and the fact that he took on a part that is completely unlike his leading man roles, not to mention the ultimate fate of his character. As good as Bogart is in THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, his performance still manages to be overshadowed by that of Walter Huston, who managed to snag a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work on the film.

Warner Home Video has made THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. This is another superb 1080p presentation of a classic black and white film. The image is wonderfully sharp and well defined, with Ted D. McCord’s location cinematography displaying a realism and richness that one doesn’t get on a soundstage, or even on the back lot. There is plenty of texturing that one takes out of the image, thanks to the varied landscapes and backdrops that came from shooting THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE primarily on location in Mexico. Some softness creeps in, but is invariable traceable to rear projection, as well as optical fades and dissolves. Blacks are dead on perfect, as are the whites. Grayscale is tremendous, with the richly varied shades conveying not only the starkness and harshness of the environments, but the subtle nuances of the darker character moments. The elements from which THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE has been transferred appear to have been digitally cleaned, without compromising the film-like quality of the presentation.

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves the soundtrack with a generally smooth sonic quality. As expected, fidelity is limited, especially at the top and bottom ends. Still, Max Steiner’s score comes across quite well. Dialogue is always completely understandable and the voices produce as much character as these vintage recordings will allow. French, Spanish, German and Portuguese monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, many of which have been ported over from the DVD release. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with Humphrey Bogart biographer Eric Lax, who discusses Bogart in far greater detail than he does the movie itself. Next up is a Warner Night At The Movies 1948. Hosted by Leonard Maltin, this Warner Night At The Movies offers a Newsreel, a Joe McDoakes short entitled So You Want to Be a Detective, classic cartoon Hot Cross Bunny, plus a Theatrical Trailer for KEY LARGO. Next up is John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick, this two-hour biographical program is hosted by Robert Mitchum and profiles the writer/director/actor’s life and career. This is followed by Discovering Treasure: The Story Of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre runs fifty minutes and looks at the making of this cinematic classic. The Lux Radio Theater Broadcast – 04/18/1949 features a performance of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. Also included is the classic Looney Tunes cartoon 8 Ball Bunny, which has its own spoof of Bogart’s character from the film. Finally, a Theatrical Trailer for THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE closes out the supplements.

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE typifies what it means to be a motion picture classic. The Blu-ray presentation is utterly superb. If you are a movie buff, Bogart devotee or a fan of either John or Walter Huston, then upgrading to THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE on Blu-ray is a no brainer. Absolutely recommended.

 
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 


The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre [Blu-ray] (1948)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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