G is for Gold! Why I love The Treasure of The Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

This is a short post about why I love the brilliant film, ‘The Treasure of The Sierra Madre’ and why I think you will love it too. There will be no spoilers in the post – so read on to find out why I think this classic should be on your viewing list.

Made in 1948 and starring Humphrey Bogart, you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘Treasure of The Sierra Madre’ is just another dated and hackneyed Hollywood adventure film but, for its time, it was a thoroughly modern script and broke many of the standard movie conventions.

Its director, John Huston, was a true firebrand and had a passion for gritty realism in his films. As such, despite misgivings from Warner Brothers, he insisted on shooting almost all of the film on location outside of America. Street scenes were filmed in Tampico, Mexico with the state of Durango serving as bandit country.

The story centres around two out of work drifters, Dobbs (Bogart) and Curtin (played by Tim Holt) living on the bread line and desperately scratching around for the next meal or job offer. During a night in sheltered accommodation they cross paths with a wily retired gold prospector (played by the director’s father, Walter Houston) who regales them with tales of his days panning for gold and of the riches that can be available to a man if he has the heart and the stomach to go out and find them. This sets the scene for the unlikely trio to make a dangerous trek across Mexican bandit country in search of a better life.

Needless to say, the journey isn’t a smooth one, fraught with threats from bandits, Federales and the landscape itself. This is in addition to the most dangerous threat of all – greed and what it can do to a human being.

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

The script is excellent, with cracking dialogue including the film’s most famous quote, spoken by one of the Mexican bandits they meet along the way:

‘Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!’

It also includes one of the most convincing and realistic bar fights ever committed to celluloid, from the opening section of the film where Dobbs and Curtin try to extract their unpaid wages from a crooked pay-master.

Thanks to John Huston’s uncompromising vision, a superb script and outstanding performances from its cast, the film went on to win two academy awards – Best Director for John Huston and Best Supporting Actor for his father.

So I urge you to seek out the film and to be entertained, but also to watch one of the most convincing depictions of the power of greed and its corruption of the human spirit. Here’s the original trailer to whet your appetite.

Have you already seen the film? What are your thoughts? Are you a fan? I would love to hear your feedback.


This was my 7th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and even some songs with audio recordings. Next post – H is for History – don’t forget the ‘Story’ part!

Author: Wayne

19 thoughts on “G is for Gold! Why I love The Treasure of The Sierra Madre

  1. If I’ve not seen this film I’d be surprised but don’t recall the name. Love all things bogart and love black and white. It was in B&W? Great posts. You’d better get drafting the ones past thurs.. tee hee..

    1. If you like Bogart, I would be surprised if you haven’t seen it, Lynne. Having said that, I have spoken to lots of people who have never heard of it, but are familiar with the ‘stinking badges’ line, so perhaps it has just become a forgotten classic.

    1. Yes, Catherine, definitely worth the effort. You could probably find a cheap 2nd hand copy on ebay. You’re right – a good story resonates for a long time.

    1. Thanks Ruby.I love to crowbar it in wherever I can too – usually when attending a conference and they try to make me where an attendee badge. It’s usually met with blank looks!

  2. I love some of these old films. They seem to have something modern films are lacking. (Not that I have anything against modern films, they’re just different I guess.)

    I haven’t seen this particular one. Will have to keep my eye out for it.

    Rinelle Grey

    1. Thanks Rinelle. I just think that any good film (new or old) manages to capture something of the time – even if it is a period piece. There’s just something about those actors and that director coming together to tell that particular story that just works.

  3. I’ve not seen the film, but I love a good quest! Watching those actors made me smile…

    Do these old ‘black and whites’ get an airing on TV these days? I’m so out of touch, there might be a dedicated channel for all I know?

    I enjoyed that. 🙂

    1. Hi Maria. They are hard to spot, but they often show up on BBC on a Saturday afternoon or even sometimes during the week. Alternatively, I think TNT channel is still going and that shows classic films all the time.

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