The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is the third time director John Huston and Humphrey Bogart teamed up and together they created another film classic. The A.M.P.A.S certainly thought so as the Huston family struck Oscar gold with John winning for Directing and Adapted Screenplay and his father Walter winning Supporting Actor. Warner Brothers now offers the film on Blu-ray, which will be a treasure in your collection.
Based on B. Traven's 1927 novel, the film tells the story a few Americans down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico. Fred C. Dobbs (Bogart) panhandles in the streets, eventually coming across Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane), who offers him a job. Dobbs accepts it as does Bob Curtin (Tim Holt), an acquaintance of his in similar financial straits. After the job, they stay at a flophouse where they meet Howard (Walter Huston), a prospector who shares stories about gold in the nearby Sierra Madre mountains. Although he warns "what gold does to men's souls," Dobbs and Curtin partner up with Howard. The trio is tested by the terrain, by bandits, and by each other in their pursuit.
The story is well plotted, taking turns that keep the audience off balance, yet always remaining believable because the characters' actions are authentic. It also speaks to a larger theme about greed. Bogart delivers one of his better performances since Dobbs' personality changes throughout. Walter Huston's Howard is always engaging and is more of a lead character than a supporting one in terms of his importance to the story.
Warner Brothers provides a 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 that shows off the beauty of Ted D. McCord's black-and-white photography. The gray scale is well represented and blacks are solidly rendered. Whites get a little too bright on occasion, but contrast is strong throughout. There's a great deal of texture on display, from facial details in close-ups to the features of the terrain. The print looks free from damage and retains a light, natural grain structure. There are the usual complaints of films this age with fade transitions not always retaining the same amount of sharpness and rear-projection footage looking less realistic.