THE TREASURE OF THE
In Humphrey Bogartís cannon of film roles, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE ($27) 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 partnerís 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 Bogartís 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 DVD in a terrific looking black and white transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. For the most part, the presentation appears pristine, although there are a few brief instances where the film displays some scratches, blemishes and other anomalies directly related to age. The image is usually very crisp and highly defined with that wonderfully stark quality that can only be captured on black and white film stock. Blacks appear deep and inky, while the whites are clean and completely stable. Contrast proves to be excellent, as does the filmís grayscale, which offers a great deal of nuance. Additionally, the truly fine black and white image produces a nice sense of dimensionality. A grain structure becomes noticeable at various times throughout the presentation, although it is never excessive. Digital compression artifacts are nicely camouflaged.
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE comes with a rather solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Almost all traces of background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving a fine sounding fifty-five years old track. Additionally, Max Steinerís score manages a nice sense of musicality, despite the age-related limitations in fidelity. Dialogue is always completely understandable and the voices produce as much character as these vintage recordings will allow. No other language tracks are provided, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a very nice array of supplements that have been spread across both discs of this Special Edition release. Disc One includes a running audio commentary with author Eric Lax, who discusses Bogart in far greater detail than he does the movie itself. Also included on disc one is another Warner Night At The Movies, this time, recreating the experience of going to the cinema in 1948. Hosted by Leonard Maltin, this Warner Night At The Movies offers a trailer, newsreel, short subject, cartoon and the feature presentation itself. A Bogart Trailer Gallery, plus cast & crew listing, in addition to an awards listing close out the first disc.
On disc two, one will find the bulk of supplemental programming. John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick is a two-hour biographical program hosted by Robert Mitchum that profiles the writer/director/actorís life and career. 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 Ė 04/18/1949 features a performance of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. Disc two also includes the classic Looney Tunes cartoon 8 Ball Bunny, which has its own spoof of Bogartís character from the film. Finally, the Treasure Trove Galleries offer up storyboards, production stills and publicity materials.
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is a true motion picture classic that has been given an excellent presentation by the fine folks at Warner Home Video. Not only does the movie look and sound terrific, Warner has put together another package of terrific supplements. If you are a movie buff, Bogart devotee or a fan of either John or Walter Huston, then picking up THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE on DVD is a no brainer. Absolutely recommended.
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