Top critical review
GRIPPING DRAMA, WONDERFUL TRANSFER!
on September 30, 2003
"The Treasure of Sierra Madre" is a story of greed, deception, murder and adventure - and that's just for starters. It stars Humphrey Bogart as Fred Dobbs, a reprobate who eschews the work ethic at every turn for a handout or the prospect of getting rich quick. Naturally, a prospect from an old codger, Howard (Walter Huston) - that Dobbs and another greed driven young hopeful, Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) steak out their claim for gold in the mountains - suddenly appeals to Fred's cynical quest for untold wealth. But the journey to rich rewards is marred by Fred's paranoia that everyone is trying to steal from him. This fear ultimately leads Fred to mistrust both his compatriots and actually attempt to kill Bob in the middle of the desert. The betrayal backfires for all those involved with the treasure remaining an elusive mirage that none of the principle players ever get their hands on. John Huston masterfully directs and costars in a cameo, in this masterful, gritty and thrilling action/adventure/drama!
Warner's gives us a cleaned up but very inconsistent transfer. There are a few problems worth noting, including aliasing and shimmering of fine details that crops up and detract from the visual presentation. There's also a bit of pixelization and some edge enhancement. The gray scale has been nicely balanced. Fine details are beautifully rendered. You won't believe this film is over 60 years old! One aside: approximately two thirds into the film, at the point where Fred almost kills Bob in the desert, the image quality suddenly spirals into a third generation looking print quality that is totally out of sync with the rest of the video presentation. There's an incredible amount of excessive film grain and age related artifacts. This poor video quality is never explained on either the film's audio commentary track or the documentary that is included on the making of the film so I, in turn, am at a total loss to explain it myself. At best I have to assume that no first generation print master was available for this portion of the film, hence other film sources were considered and ultimately utilized to make the film whole again. The audio is mono but well balanced.
Extras include documentaries on both the film and the career of John Huston, featurettes, audio commentaries, trailers and a stills gallery. Very handsomely mounted and very thoughtfully put together. My hat off to the good people at Warner Brothers!