11 February 2008

46. the treasure of sierra madre

it is about greed, which is the oldest theme in the book. what can movie do to men's souls? ask daniel plainview from "there will be blood" and he'll tell you -- first he'll talk about milkshakes, but then he'll tell you. and then, with a bowling pin, he'll show you.

i mention that movie because this one was a clear inspiration for this. we get that great old hollywood economy -- a foreign setting sets up our (anti-)hero and we watch him hatch a plot to get out of his destitute ways, and then we see the inevitable downfall from his subsequent strife, paranoia, and overreaching.

this is something we've seen before and we'll see again, and probably that is The Way It Should Be. it is a good thing to be reminded that the search for more money and more money and ever more money is a fool's quest. so we've seen this, but as always, the details are what counts. in this case, the details involve walter huston's wonderful play on The Old Prospector character -- his husckster-style speech patterns, the knowingness in his eyes, that wonderful little jig he dances. he earned that oscar. and let's mention bogart, who is known more as an icon than an actual Actor, but who plays a corrupt madman so well, and with such an admirable lack of vanity.

this is a movie that is done so well that you remember moments ("we don't need no stinking badges!", bogart's soliloquy after the murder, the aforementioned jig) and the outline, but it mostly just glides right over you.