After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled prospector named Howard and decide to join with him in search of gold in the wilds of central Mexico. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This film made a huge impression on me when I first saw it at the age of 15 or 16. A recent rewatching on DVD really served to bring home for me what makes this film so special.
The whole thing is quite good, but it really hits you when Howard goes off to celebrate with the Indians, leaving Dobbs and Curtin to care for his gold and burros. The ensuing scenes of their spiraling mistrust and tension are absolutely spellbinding--the kind of thing that makes you lean forward in your seat just to get your eyes a little closer to the raw humanity unfolding in front of you. Their paranoia, the way you can SEE scenarios of betrayal dancing in their eyes, Dobbs' burgeoning madness--these are the moments that make this film one for the ages.
At its best, film noir (which this most certainly is--Western surroundings or no) makes the viewer complicit in the evil depicted on screen. We find ourselves scheming and plotting in our heads along with the unsavory characters we are watching--we start to feel the same temptations and desires that they do. "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" accomplishes this bond with the audience as well as any film you are likely to see.
A magnificent film--one of the few great screen tragedies.
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