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“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” {Blu-ray}-(Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
10/5/10
Special Features:

Two documentaries, commentary by writer Eric Lax; “Warner Night at the Movies”, radio performance featuring Humphrey Bogart of the story

Rated: NR

Review:

Arguably the best movie that director John Huston made with actor Humphrey Bogart and his least appreciated at the time of its release, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” portrays the dark side of human nature with little chance of redemption for the main characters. Mixing a genre picture with a serious glimpse into the human soul was probably not the recipe for success in post-World War II America but the result manages to be film that transcends the time and the genre it fits within. ***

Bogart plays Fred Dobbs a down-on-his luck American stuck in 1920’s Mexico without work and without much chance of hope. Dobbs and another American Bob Curtin (Tim holt) do find work putting in long hours and physical effort for Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane) who ultimately takes off with the money HE was supposed to pay them. (watch for a cameo by a very young Robert Blake post-“Little Rascals” asa Mexican kid trying to sell Dobbs a worthless lottery ticket). ***

The pair now united in discord meet prospector Howard (Walter Huston). Dobbs and Curtin track down McCormick beat him and take the $300 they were owed using it to supply prospecting with Howard. This uneasy trio find their alliance tested when they finally do find gold and each, in turn, becomes paranoid planning against the other. ---

Unlike most star vehicles of the time, Bogart gives up screen time to his co-stars who really shine; in particular Holt who has the most dramatic change of character of the three and actually develops a glimmer of insight into his behavior and what he has become. Walter Huston the father of the director gives one of his strongest performances as a character actor virtually dominating any scene that he is in and provides us the two main protagonists with something of a conscience at least until gold fever infects them. ---

Image & Sound:

Presented in its original 1.33:1 Academy ratio presentation, “Treasure” looks extremely good. Don’t be alarmed by the window boxed opening titles after that the film expands to glorious full screen for the rest of the presentation. ***

This much maligned film that is now recognized as a classic obviously didn’t receive as much love and care during its lifetime in theaters—the prints drawn from existing sources look good but aren’t quite as sharp as “The Maltese Falcon” (released the same day). Part of that came down to the difficulty associated with the location shooting, the relentless heat and exposure of the stock to a variety of conditions (much like “The African Queen” although that film fared far worse and took a considerable amount of time and effort to restore). ***

Blacks are not crushed and are solid throughout. Contrast is quite nice and the detail is so good that you can often make out touches of make up on the actors and when things have been faked. ***

The mono audio sounds quite nice focusing on dialogue but still allowing the sound effects and music plenty of breathing space to survive on the crowded mono track. We get a variety of subtitles including German, Spanish, French and, oddly enough, Finnish.

Special Features:

Unlike some of the other Warner deluxe titles that have recently come to Blu-ray we don’t see any new special features but we do see the best material ported over for this edition. ***

Eric Lax the author of a biography on Bogart provides an interesting commentary track even though it often seems by rote; “Discovering Treasure” is a documentary that focuses on the making of the movie. We even get “John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick” a 20 year old documentary on the filmmaker that if a bit dated is filled with interesting and enlightening interviews and observations. ***

Warner closes things out on this set with period shorts that might have run before the film and theatrical trailers. Unfortunately, none of the special features are in HD.

Final Words:

While Warner is doing the right thing by including stellar transfers, all the extras from the previous DVD edition (where possible) for many of their catalog Blu-ray titles, it would be nice to see the studio spent the extra effort and bring the special features to us in HD to match the quality of the film. I realize that there may not be HD sources for all of these (and if there isn't at least upscale it and note that there is no HD source available), but it would be nice to have them upscaled nonetheless. ***

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" one of John Huston's finest films arrives with a very nice, sharp looking HD transfer that compliments the film. Bogart, Holt and Huston give among their best performances in this film and the film is, surprisingly, candid and brutal at times by even contemporary standards adding a level of grit and reality missing from much of the studio product that was released in the late 40's/early 50's. ***

Highly recommended.

 

 
 
 
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