Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre


“Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.” If you are thinking of iconic film lines, that one is sure to come up, though, like “Play it again, Sam,” it is often misquoted. This was the great John Huston’s fifth film as writer/director, though he had written many scripts before. It is from the book by B. Traven, about whom almost nothing is known. I have actually read it, and it is worth the read. But the film transcends it gloriously. Bogey turns in some of his best work as the paranoid Fred C. Dobbs. John’s father, Walter Huston, won Best Supporting Actor, and John won both Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It lost Best Picture to Olivier’s Hamlet, and shouldn’t have. It is said that John persuaded his old man to do the part without his dentures, which wasn’t easy, and Walter had as big an ego as any actor. But if this is true, it was a wise choice, it made him perfect for the part. The film is a dirty, dusty, gritty masterpiece, and a fable about greed that’s a lot better than Erich von Stroheim’s movie that was actually titled Greed. They just don’t get much better than this.