The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (movie)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American dramatic adventurous neo- western written and directed by John Huston . It was a feature film adaptation of B. Traven ‘s 1927novel , about two financially desperate Americans , Fred C. Dobbs ( Humphrey Bogart ) and Bob Curtin ( Tim Holt ), who’ s in the 1920s join old – timer Howard ( Walter Huston , the director’s father) in Mexico to prospect for gold.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was one of the first Hollywood films to be filmed on the outside of the United States (in the state of Durango and street scenes in Tampico , Mexico), although many scenes were filmed back in the studio and elsewhere in the US. The film is quite faithful to the source novel. In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. [2]


In 1925 in the Mexican oil-town of Tampico , Dobbs ( Humphrey Bogart ) and Curtin ( Tim Holt ), two Americans cheated out of the guise of their way to their luck, meet old prospector Howard ( Walter Huston ). When Dobbs and Curtin retrieves their promised wages, and wins a small jackpot in the lottery, they have the bankroll to finance a gold prospecting journey to the remote Sierra Madre mountains .

They ride in the hinterlands, surviving a bandit attack en route. In the desert, Howard proves to be the toughest and most knowledgeable; he is the one to discover the gold they seek (laughing and dancing a jig on the discovery). A mine is dug, and much gold is extracted. Greed soon sets in, and Dobbs begins to lose both his trust and his sanity, first saying that they should split the gold up among the three of them as they find it, and eventually lusting to possess the entire treasure. Dobbs is also unreasonable that he will be killed by his partners for his gold.

Curtin meets another American named James Cody ( Bruce Bennett ), who follows Curtin back to their camp. They tell Cody that they are hungry, but they are going through their islands and they know they are looking for gold and they want to join them. This sets up a debate about what to do with Cody. Rather than give him a share of the future production of the mine, the men decides to kill Cody. Just as the three confront him with pistols and prepare to kill him, the bandits reappear, crudely pretending to be Federales . After a vocal exchange of exchange concerning proof , a gunfight with the bandits ensues, in which Cody is killed. A real troop of Federales appears and chases the bandits away.

Howard is called to assist local villagers to save the life of a seriously ill little boy. When the boy recovers, the next day, the villagers insist that Howard returns to the village to be honored and will take no for an answer. Howard leaves his goods with Dobbs and Curtin and says he will meet them later. Dobbs, whose continuous paranoia, and Curtin constantly argues, takes hold of the camp, shoots him, grabs all three shares of the gold, and leaves him for dead. However, the wounded Curtin survives and manages to crawl away during the night.

Nearly dying of thirst, Dobbs is at a waterhole by the bandits they meet at the mine. Because he is alone, he is no match for the bandits and is killed. In their ignorance, the bandits believe Dobbs’ bags of unrefined gold are blown with sand , and they scatter the gold to the winds, taking only his burros and supplies. Meanwhile, Curtin is Discovered by indios and taken to Howard’s village Where he recovers.

The bandits are trying to buy donkeys, and they are wearing clothes, and they are wearing clothes and carrying them to the Federales. The bandits are captured, sentenced to death, and forced to dig their own grave before being executed. Curtin and Howard are witnessing the bandits’ execution by Federales by a few minutes as they arrive back in town, and learn that the gold is gone.

While checking the area where the bandits dropped the gold, Howard and Curtin made some excuses and surmised that the winds went back. They accept the loss with equanimity, Howard, proclaiming it a good joke and laughing with the same heartiness when finally persuaded Curtin to laugh, as well. They share ways, Howard returning to the Indio village, where the United States, and Curtin returning home to the United States, where he will seek the widow of Cody in the peach orchards of Texas.


  • Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs
  • Walter Huston as Howard
  • Tim Holt as Bob Curtin
  • Bruce Bennett as James Cody
  • Barton MacLane as Pat McCormick
  • Alfonso Bedoya as Gold Hat
  • Arturo Soto Rangel as El Presidente
  • Manuel Dondé as El Jefe
  • José Torvay as Pablo
  • Margarito Luna as Pancho
  • Robert Blake as the Mexican Boy Selling Lottery Tickets (uncredited)
  • John Huston in the White Suit (uncredited)

Production notes


Director John Huston first read the novel by B. Traven in 1935 and had thought the material would make a great movie with his father. Based on a 19th-century ballad by a German poet, Traven’s book reminded Huston of his own adventures in the Mexican cavalry. After a smashing success with his directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon , Huston started to work on the project. The studio had George Raft , Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield in mind for the three main roles, but then World War II intervened. While Huston was in the filming documentaries, Robert Rossen Huston has been brought on board, and it has been very much in the past.

Vincent Sherman was all set to live in the world during the WWII years until his script fell foul of the Breen office for being derogatory towards Mexicans.


By Humphrey Bogart had become Warner Brothers’ biggest star. This was absolutely appropriate, for when Bogart first got wind of the fact that Huston might be making a movie of the B. Traven novel, he immediately started badging Huston for a part. Bogart was given the role of Fred C. Dobbs. Prior to filming, Humphrey Bogart met with a new York nightclub. “Wait till you see me in my next picture,” he said, “I play the worst shit you ever saw”.

Huston’s decision to cast his father, Walter Huston , as Howard. He had preferred Lewis Stone , but eventually came to agree with Huston’s choice.

Walter Huston himself also questioned his son’s choice. citation needed ] He is still going to be a leader. However, he was able to convince him to accept, and also persuaded him to play with his teeth for the sake of reality. John Huston rated his father’s performance as the finest piece of acting in any of his films. Citation needed ] On seeing the depth of Walter Huston’s performance, Humphrey Bogart famously said. “One Huston is bad enough, but two are murder.”

Huston originally wanted to cast Ronald Reagan as James Cody. Jack L. Warner instead insisted on casting Reagan for another movie. Bruce Bennett was eventually cast in the role.

A few notable uncredited actors appear in the movie. In an opening cameo, director John Huston is pestered for money by Bogart’s character. The scene was directed by Bogart himself. citation needed ] Actor Robert Blake also appears as a young boy selling lottery tickets. quote needed ]

Sheridan in streetwalker costume, with Bogart and Huston on the set. [3] Many film-history sources Sheridan credit for the part.

Co-star Tim Holt’s father, Jack Holt , a star of silent and early-sounding Westerns and action films, makes a one-line appearance at the beginning of the movie. quote needed ]


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was one of the first Hollywood films to be filmed on the outside of the United States (in the state of Durango and street scenes in Tampico, Mexico), although many scenes were filmed back in the studio and elsewhere in the US. Filming took a break and a half months to shoot.

The first scene in the film with Bogart and Holt was the first to be shot. The opening scenes, filmed in longshot on the Plaza of the Libertad in Tampico, show contemporary (ie of 1940s) cars and buses, even though the story opens in 1925, as evidenced by the lottery number poster.

Just as Huston was starting to shoot in Tampico, Mexico, the production was shut down inexplicably by the local government. The cast and crew were a complete loss to understand why, since the residents and government of Tampico had been so generous in days past. It turns out to be a false story that the filmmakers of making a production that was unflattering to Mexico.

Huston soon found out why the newspaper skewered him and his production. When you wanted to do anything in Tampico, it was a bit of a little money towards the editor of the newspaper, something the crew failed to do. Fortunately, two of Huston’s associates, Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias, went to bat for the director with the President of Mexico. The speeches were dropped, and a few weeks later, the editor of the newspaper was caught dead.

Most of the Mexican extras were paid 10 pesos a day which was the equivalent of $ 2.00, a considerable amount for an impoverished region at the time.

There were scenes in which Walter Huston had to speak fluent Spanish, a language he did not know off camera. To fill this need, John Huston wrote a book about the lines, and then the elder Huston memorized them so much that he knew a lot about the native language. As Alfonso Bedoya ‘s highly stressed members of the local population, Alfonso Bedoya ‘ s highly accented pronunciation. Example: “horseback” came out as “whore’s back”. Bogart only knew two Spanish words, “Dos Equis”, a Mexican beer.

The fight scene in the cantina took five days to shoot. During the shooting of the entire film, John Huston pulled pranks on Bennett, Bedoya (along with Bogart) and Bogart himself.

While most of the film was shot in Mexico City, Jack L. Warner had the unit returned to Hollywood when the budget started to exceed three million dollars.

Though the daily rushes impressed Warner Bros., Jack L. Warner, he almost went berserk with the weekly expenditures. After watching one scene, Warner threw up his hands and shouted to Blanke, “Yeah, they’re looking for gold all right – mine!” During another screening of rushes, Warner watched Dobbs stumble along in the desert for water. Warner jumped up in the middle of the scene and shouted to a gaggle of executives, “I’m going broke!”

Warner had reason to be upset. John Huston and Blanke would like to know that the film would be an easy picture to make and that they would be in Mexico in a matter of weeks. Because Warner was notorious for not actually reading scripts, he assumed the film was a B-movie Western. As the full extent of Huston’s plans became apparent, Warner nearly blew a gasket. He was particularly unhappy with the film ended, arguing that audiences would not accept it. Ironically, Warner was correct, since the initial box office was impressive as fool’s gold. But the film was a huge success story, in its many re-releases, it’s more than earned its original investment of $ 3 million.

As production dragged on, Bogart, who was an avid yachtsman, was starting to get angry about missing the Honolulu Classic, the Catalina-to-Hawaii race in which he usually took part. Despite assurances from the studio that he would be wrapped on the picture by then, he was starting to constantly annoy Huston about whether he would be done in time. Eventually Huston had enough and grabbed Bogart by the nose and twisted hard. Bogart never again asked to be confirmed.

The wind storm in the final scene was created by borrowing some jet engines from the Mexican Air Force . Traven was asked if he would like to visit the set during location shooting. He demurred, but said he would be sending an associate instead. The associate was actually Traven himself, using a pseudonym. It is debated if this is speculation or not.

Edited scene

Huston’s original filmed depiction citation needed ] of Dobbs’ death was more graphic – as it was in the book – than the one that finally made it onto the screen. When Gold Hat Dobbs strikes with his machete, Dobbs is decapitated. Huston shot Dobbs ‘(fake) head rolling into the waterhole (a quick shot of Gold Hat’s accomplices reacting to Dobbs’ rolling head remains in the film, and in the very next shot one can see the water rippling where it rolled in). The 1948 censors would not allow that, so Huston camouflaged the cut shot with Gold Hat striking Dobbs. Warner Bros. publicity department released a statement that Humphrey Bogart was “disappointed the scene could not be shown in all its graphic glory.”Bogart’s reaction was: “What’s wrong with showing a guy getting his head cut off?” quote needed ]

John Huston’s screenplay

Main article: Stinking badges

John Huston ‘s adaptation of Traven’s novel Was altered to meet Hays Code regulations, qui Severely limited profanity in the film. [4] The badges, to god-damned hell with badges! In fact, we do not need badges. god-damned cabrón and chinga you madre ! ” The dialogue as written for the film is:

Gold Hat : “We are Federales … you know, the police mounted.”
Dobbs : “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
Gold Hat : “Badges? We do not have badges! We do not need no badges!

Gold Hat’s response as written by Huston – and delivered by Bedoya – has become famous, and is often misquoted as “We do not need our stinking badges!” In 2005, the quotation Was Chosen as No. 36 on the American Film Institute list, AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes .


The film is often described as a story about the corrupting influence of greed. [5] Movie critic Roger Ebert expanded upon this idea, saying that “The movie has never been about gold but about character.” [6] In addition, reviewers noted the importance of greed and gold, but also of nature and its desolateness as an influence on the actions of the men. [7] However, the ability of the film has been questioned, in view of the fact that Dobbs’ character is so obviously flawed from the beginning. [7]


According to Variety the film earned $ 2.3 million in the US in 1948. [8]

Awards and honors

John Huston won the Academy Award for Directing and Academy Award for Writing Screenplay in 1948 for his work on the Treasure of the Sierra Madre . Walter Huston, John Huston’s father, also won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in this film, the first father-his win. The film was nominated for the Best Picture award, but lost to Laurence Olivier ‘s film adaptation of Hamlet .

In 1990, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film was among the first 100 films to be selected. [2]

Director Stanley Kubrick listed The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as his favorite movie of all time in a 1963 edition of Cinema magazine. [9] Director Sam Raimi Official it as His favorite movie of all time in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes and director Paul Thomas Anderson watched it at night before bed while writing His movie There Will Be Blood . [10]

American Film Institute recognition
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies – No. 30
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Thrills – No. 67
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains :
    • Fred C. Dobbs – Nominated Villain [11]
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes :
    • “Badges? We do not need no badges! We do not need no badges! – No. 36
  • AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated [12]
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 38

Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan has also cited the film as one of his favorite personalities. A key scene from the movie was emulated in ” Buyout “, the sixth episode of the series’ fifth season.


  1. Jump up^ The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , Movie Movie Review. AMC’sFilmSite. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a Gamarekian B , Barbara (October 19, 1990). “Library of Congress Adds 25 Titles to National Film Registry” . The New York Times . Retrieved July 22, 2009 .
  3. Jump up^ Discovering Treasure: The Story of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Turner Classic Movies, 2003
  4. Jump up^ “Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)” . 2010 . Retrieved 2010-04-21 .
  5. Jump up^ “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)” . The New York Times . 1948.
  6. Jump up^ “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” . 2003.
  7. ^ Jump up to:b “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” . The Nation . 1948.
  8. Jump up^ “Top Grossers of 1948”, Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  9. Jump up^ Baxter 1997, p. 12.
  10. Jump up^ Lynn Hirschberg (November 11, 2007). “The New Frontier’s Man” . The New York Times . Retrieved November 10, 2007 .
  11. Jump up^ AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
  12. Jump up^ AFI’s 100 Years of Nominated Film Scores

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