A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, director John Huston's 1948 exploration of greed, betrayal, and conscience, is a classic black-and-white film based on B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name. Probably younger viewers will be uninterested, but older teens who are students of classic film may appreciate the craftsmanship and the fact that it was one of the first Hollywood films to be shot outside the U.S. on location. Shoot-outs leave bodies behind and off-camera executions of criminals are featured, but the black-and-white renders the small amount of blood seen far less gory than the stuff ordinarily displayed in contemporary movies. A foreman hires needy men to build houses then stiffs them. Later, when confronted, he beats up two men he stiffed until they knock him down and take the money they're owed from his wallet. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, sometimes to drunkenness.
- Parents say
- Kids say
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the story?
In THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt) are down-and-out Americans bumming meals and cigarettes to survive on the streets of 1925 Tampico, Mexico. When they meet the grizzled, white-bearded Howard (Walter Huston) at a Mexican flophouse, he is spinning tales of gold prospecting. He warns of the loneliness, hard labor, and danger involved, adding that the pursuit of gold does terrible things to the souls of even the best men. Nevertheless, the younger men suggest pooling their resources and, under secrecy and the guidance of Howard's experience, they set off on a life-changing trek up an unforgiving Mexican mountain. The old man has the energy and stamina of a mountain goat, often leaving the other two behind. It's a hint that actions speak louder than words, which is an overarching theme. Character is revealed slowly. A man's death spurs an unexpected pledge of charity. When a group of locals finds the men's camp and asks them to help revive a young boy who is in a coma, Howard goes without hesitation and pumps life into the still child's body. As the three find, mine, purify, and amass gold, bandits and a meddling prospector threaten, leading to shoot-outs, mistrust, murder, and betrayals.
Is it any good?
Human weaknesses are magnificently on display in every scene of this classic tale of greed, betrayal, and conscience. John Huston cannily directed his father Walter to a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award and also won himself Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars. The movie asks great questions: When money is at stake, how much is enough? Are partners owed loyalty? How far must one go to protect one's interest? Is murder justifiable? Which suspicions are sensible and which are delusional paranoia? Huston ably juggles the constant tension between man's natural desire to work communally and the equally powerful drive toward self-protection. Are three strangers capable of working as one? It may be a losing proposition to fight human weakness, but the odds are even worse when fighting forces of nature. These observations and questions are not new and, in fact, the structure echoes that of a heist movie, but the addition of the harsh mountain setting, the dangers and details of gold prospecting, and the threat of armed Mexican bandits each adds twists that keep this two-hour-plus epic riveting throughout.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Treasure of the Sierra Madre shows how willing people can be to share with others in order to get what they want, but generosity may fade once the goal is reached.
What do you think surprised the younger men about the character played by Walter Huston? Do you think they had preconceived notions about him just because he looked older and grayer than they did? Do you think the younger men could have survived in the mountains without him?
Do you sometimes decide that people are worse than they really are just so you can justify disliking them? How do you think this ordinary human tendency influences the way we pick teammates, the way schools admit applicants, the way employers hire employees, the way voters elect candidates?
If you could remake this movie, how would you do it and who would you cast?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love classic tales
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch