AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Director: John Huston (Dir)
Release Date:   24 Jan 1948
Production Date:   mid-Mar--18 Jul 1947
Duration (in mins):   124 or 127-128
Duration (in feet):   11,350
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Humphrey Bogart ([Fred C.] Dobbs)  
    Walter Huston (Howard)  
    Tim Holt (Curtin)  
    Bruce Bennett (Cody)  
    Barton MacLane ([Pat] McCormick)  
    Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat)  
    Arturo Soto Rangel (Presidente)  
    Manuel Dondé (El Jefe)  
    José Torvay (Pablo)  
    Margarito Luna (Pancho)  
    Jacqueline Dalya (Flashy girl)  
    Bobby Blake (Mexican boy)  
    Spencer Chan (Proprietor)  
    Julián Rivero (Barber)  
    John Huston (White suit)  
    Harry Véjar (Bartender)  
    Pat Flaherty (Customer)  
    Guillermo Calles (Mexican storekeeper)  
    Roberto Cañedo (Mexican lieutenant)  
    Ernesto Escoto (Mexican bandit)  
    Ignacio Villalbazo (Mexican bandit)  
    Ildefonso Vega (Indian)  
    Francisco Islas (Indian)  
    Alberto Valdespino (Indian)  
    Manuel Bautista (Indian child)  
    Sabino García Pérez (Indian escort)  
    Mario Mancilla (Youth)  
    Martin Garralaga (Railroad conductor)  
    Clifton Young    
    Jack Holt    
    Ralph Dunn    

Summary: In 1925, in Tampico, Mexico, down-and-out Fred C. Dobbs is hired to work in an oil field, where he meets another American named Curtin. After the job is finished, Dobbs and Curtin head for a flophouse for the night. There, Howard, an old prospector, talks about men who succumbed to gold fever and lost everything, and Dobbs swears that would never happen to him. Having learned that Pat McCormick, the man who hired them, has a reputation for defaulting on the money he owes his men, Dobbs and Curtin demand that he pay them immediately. McCormick puts up a fight, but Dobbs and Curtin overpower him and take their money. They then ask Howard to help them prospect for gold. Using their pay and the money from Dobbs's winning lottery ticket, the three men head toward the Sierra Madre mountains. When their train is attacked by bandits, the Americans help fight them off, but a sudden motion of the train prevents Dobbs from killing their leader, Gold Hat. Later, in a small village, the men buy burros and supplies and head for undiscovered territory. Just as the exhausted Dobbs and Curtin decide to quit, Howard informs them that they have located a rich lode of gold. After a while, Dobbs begins to suspect the others of cheating him and suggests that they divide up the gold as they go along. Just as Howard had warned, the men become suspicious of each other. When Dobbs is caught in a cave-in, Curtin briefly considers leaving him to die, in order to get a larger share of the treasure. One day, when Curtin goes into the valley for supplies, he encounters Cody, a Texan, who questions him closely about the territory because he is sure that there is gold in the surrounding mountains. Although Curtin lies about his business, Cody follows him to the camp site and suggests that they make him a partner. Secretly, the others decide to kill Cody, but before they can take action, the camp is attacked by bandits, led by Gold Hat. Although the bandits are scared off by the appearance of federal soldiers, Cody is killed in the crossfire. The gold streak thins out and the men leave the camp. When Curtin suggests that they give a fourth of their gold to Cody's widow, Howard agrees, but Dobbs greedily refuses. Later, Howard helps revive an Indian child after he falls in the water and is forced to visit their village to allow them to repay their debt to him. Dobbs and Curtin continue on to Durango and, while in the desert, Dobbs, who has become obsessed with the gold, urges Curtin to steal Howard's share. When Curtin refuses, Dobbs accuses him of conspiring with Howard to get rid of him. Fearing for his life, Curtin tries to stay awake all night, but when he finally falls asleep, Dobbs shoots him and leaves him for dead. Curtin manages to crawl away and is found by Indians and brought to the village where Howard is being honored. When Howard learns what transpired, he and Curtin ride after Dobbs. Meanwhile, Dobbs is attacked by Gold Hat's bandits, who kill him and steal his boots and burros. They do not recognize the dust as gold-laden and, assuming that it is sand used to make the hides that cover it weigh more, dump it in the desert. In Durango, the bandits are captured when they try to sell the burros and are shot. Howard and Curtin are later taken to the place where Dobbs was murdered and, as they search for whatever remains of the gold, a storm blows the dust back toward the Sierra Madre mountains. Laughing at the irony of their situation, Howard decides to return to the Indians and spend the rest of his life as their medicine man, while Curtin plans to go to Dallas and visit Cody's widow. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: John Huston (Dir)
  Dick Mayberry (Asst dir)
  John Prettyman (Asst dir)
Producer: Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Henry Blanke (Prod)
Writer: John Huston (Scr)
Photography: Ted McCord (Dir of photog)
  Ellsworth Fredericks (2d cam)
  Dave Brodie (Asst cam)
  Mac Julian (Stills)
  Clair Sealey (Gaffer)
Art Direction: John Hughes (Art dir)
  Frank Durlauf (Asst art dir)
Film Editor: Owen Marks (Film ed)
  Fred E. Farrell (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Fred M. MacLean (Set dec)
  George Sweeney (Props)
  Bob Bono (Props)
Costumes: Robert Odell (Ward)
  Ted Schultz (Ward)
Music: Murray Cutter (Orch arr)
  Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Max Steiner (Mus)
Sound: Robert B. Lee (Sd)
Special Effects: William McGann (Spec eff dir)
  H. F. Koenekamp (Spec eff)
  Eddie Cavert (Spec eff)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Frank McCoy (Makeup)
  Betty Delmont (Hair)
Production Misc: Ernesto A. Romero (Tech adv)
  Antonio Arriaga (Tech adv)
  Don Page (Unit mgr)
  Fred Applegate (Scr supv)
  Robert Fender (Unit pub)
  Burdette Hoke (Best boy)
  William Classen (Grip)
  Ed Romero (Painter)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven (New York, 1935).
Authors: B. Traven

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 24/1/1948 dd/mm/yyyy LP1439

PCA NO: 12347
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
  Adventure
  Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Gold
  Greed
  Mexico
  Prospectors
  Sierra Madre Mountains (Mexico)
 
Subjects (Minor): Americans in foreign countries
  Attempted murder
  Bandits
  Donkeys
  Dust storms
  Gunfights
  Indians of Central America
  Lotteries
  Obsession
  Oil fields
  Soldiers
  Trains

Note: Memos included in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library add the following information about the production: The B. Traven novel was purchased by the studio in 1941 as a vehicle for director John Huston. (Due to some complications and misunderstandings, the motion picture rights to the novel were difficult to obtain.) By Jul 1942, Huston was in the Army, and, in a memo dated 14 Jul 1942, producer Henry Blanke asked story editor Jim Geller to send a copy of the book to Edward G. Robinson for his consideration. In Dec 1942, Robert Rossen was working on a draft of the screenplay, but the film was eventually postponed and not revived until Huston's return from active duty at the end of the war. The extent of Rossen's contribution, if any, to the completed film has not been determined. Ronald Reagan was considered for the role of "Curtin" and Zachary Scott was a possibility for the role of "Cody." Papers included in the production file on the film at the AMPAS Library add the following information about the production: A 10 Feb 1943 press release listed Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and John Garfield as the film's stars, while a 22 Aug 1945 press release announced Vincent Sherman as director. According to production notes, the production spent eight weeks shooting in Mexico and ten days filming near Kernville, CA.
       Novelist B. Traven was a mysterious character who refused to reveal any information about himself, although he exchanged numerous letters with John Huston. Life reported that while on location in Mexico, Huston was approached by a man who called himself Hal Croves, who claimed to be Traven's translator. Huston hired him as a technical advisor. When Huston later speculated in print that Croves and Traven were one and the same, Croves wrote an angry letter of denial, pointing out that he was paid $150 a week, far less than an author of Traven's fame was worth. According to a 22 Dec 1978 NYT article, a research team for the British Broadcasting Corporation later confirmed Huston's theory. The BBC discovered that Traven's real name was Herman Albert Otto Maksymillian Feige and that he was born in 1882 in Poland. He supposedly fled Germany in 1919 to escape a death sentence for his revolutionary activities.
       A modern source notes that as a good-luck gesture to Huston, Ann Sheridan was to perform a silent bit part as a prostitute, but adds that the character in the film cannot be positively identified as Sheridan. Modern sources add the following cast and crew members: Prod chief Luis Sánchez Tello; Prod asst Jaime Luis Contreras; Sd Rafael Ruiz Esparza; Photog George Stahl. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Walter Huston received an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance, and John Huston was awarded two Oscars: Best Director and Best Screenplay. This film marked the first time a father and son received Oscars for the same film. On 18 Apr 1949, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. The story aired again on 15 Feb 1955. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was ranked 38th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving down from the 30th position it held on AFI's 1997 list. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   10 Jan 1948.   
Daily Variety   6 Jan 48   p. 3, 9
Film Daily   7 Jan 48   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Mar 46   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Mar 47   p. 18
Hollywood Reporter   4 Apr 47   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jun 47   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jan 48   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jan 48   p. 6.
Life   12 Feb 1948.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Jan 48   p. 4009.
New York Times   24 Jan 48   p. 11.
Variety   7 Jan 48   p. 56.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
AFI Membership
The definitive list of classic American films

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.