The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Release Date: October 5, 2010 Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" Year: 1948 Rating: NR Running Time: 2:06:00 MSRP: $24.98 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 1.33:1 Standard definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, German 1.0, Spanish 1.0, Portuguese 1.0 Variable Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Norwegian, Swedish Variable The Feature: 4.5/5 Tired of begging for pesos and being swindled out of their wages, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt) - two Americans struggling to get by in Tampico, Mexico - take up with a veteran gold prospector named Howard (Walter Huston) in the hopes of finally turning their lives around. With $600 between the three of them, they buy enough tools and provisions to make a go of things in the rugged Sierra Madre Mountains and Howard's experience and keen instincts eventually lead them to an area with gold to be found. However, they stop short of registering a claim for fear of others coming to draw from their discovery. Working largely in secret, and using a cover story of being professional hunters, the three men manage to accumulate enough gold to make their lives very comfortable back in the States. But as Howard warned from the beginning, gold can change men - make those once decent into those you'd never turn your back on. Of the three men, Dobbs seems to be the one most susceptible to the metal's corrupting influence, though the partnership as a whole begins to lose the camaraderie, trust and diplomacy that it had when it formed. Though the three have managed to keep their increasingly strained partnership functioning over several months, there's still the long journey back to civilization that will test the limit of their relationship and, ultimately, their humanity. Directed by John Huston and based on B. Traven's novel by the same name, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" stands as a compelling cautionary tale about the corrupting influence of material wealth and the ugliness of greed. Though the story's essence is familiar and has been presented in various forms over the centuries, Huston's film is especially powerful for its impeccable storytelling and standout performances, particularly from Bogart, who makes his character's moral and psychological degeneration both heartbreaking and infuriating, sometimes at the same time. The film actually made me think of Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" more than once, and though it shares a similar bleakness in tone and vision, "Sierra Madre's" moral is ultimately more accessible. In part because we can more easily identify with its characters, but mainly because the story offers a path to redemption, a golden glimmer of hope. That piece of the message is made rather pointedly at times, but it's really the only flaw in this otherwise masterfully directed film. Video Quality: 4.5/5 Released together with Huston and Bogart's first collaboration, "The Maltese Falcon," "Sierra Madre" has the same fine characteristics and quality of presentation. The film is accurately framed at 1.33:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Black levels are generally deep and inky, with only a few moments when the image looks a little too opened up. Contrast displays the full range of values with excellent shadow delineation and no signs of compression throughout the spectrum. Overall sharpness and fine object detail are equally impressive, revealing a healthy level of grain and showing great definition in the numerous high contrast images. Note that there are a handful of shots clearly a generation or two removed from the original - looking noticeably soft and flat in contrast - but the moments are very brief and handled well. The image is also devoid of physical blemishes and signs of excessive digital tinkering. All in all, Warner Home Video has provided an impressive video presentation for this 60-year old, black-and-white classic. Audio Quality: 4/5 The 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio features clear, undistorted dialogue and satisfying dynamic range. Though not likely to test the limits of the surround sound system, it's a more than suitable complement to the high quality visuals. Special Features: 4/5 The set of extras has a couple significant pieces, namely a two-hour long documentary about John Huston and a solid piece about the film itself. Artifacts from the era round out the set, giving viewers a healthy sense of the period's cultural climate. Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax: Lax is obviously reading from notes through most of the commentary, which makes for a through, if frequently stuffy, presentation. If a viewer has the patience to sit through the track, they'll get plenty of history, trivia and anecdotes about the production and the cast and crew. Warner Night at the Movies 1948: The collection of short pieces was put together to replicate the movie going experience of the era, which included a newsreel, trailers, and cartoons. Introduction by Leonard Maltin (3:46, SD): Maltin offers an overview of the pieces and some historical context to each. "Key Largo" Trailer (2:25, SD) Newsreel (4:45, SD): Documents a weather disaster in the South, Philadelphia's Mummers Parade, and the Chelsea Arts Ball. "Hot Cross Bunny" (7:10, SD): Bugs Bunny is selected for a body swapping experiment. "So You Want to be A Detective?" (10:53, SD): Slapstick comedy starring George O'Hanlon (AKA the voice of George Jetson) as Joe McDoakes, exploring what it means to be private eye. I thought the piece was actually pretty funny for its combination of pratfalls and first person camerawork. John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick (2:08:13, SD): 1989 biographical documentary directed by Frank Martin ("MGM: When the Lion Roars") includes Robert Mitchum as host and interviews with Lauren Bacall, Paul Newman, Arthur Miller, among many others. Archival interviews with Huston and footage from home movies further illuminate the bold and eccentric life he lead. Discovering Treasure: The Story of the The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (49:57, SD): Offers a thorough history of the film, including the origins of the B. Traven novel, the long path to its film adaptation, and various stories from the on-location production. 8 Ball Bunny (7:08, SD): Bugs Bunny tries to return a lost penguin to his home and runs across Dobbs (in his panhandling phase) at a couple locations. Lux Radio Theater (59:42): 1949 radio show adaptation of the film is presented in two-channel audio at 192 kbps. Original Theatrical Trailer (2:41, SD) Recap The Feature: 4.5/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 4/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5 Warner Home Video turns in a fantastic technical presentation of John Huston's compelling cautionary tale about the corrupting power of material wealth. The special features includes some highly informative documentary pieces as well as some interesting archival elements. Owners of the seven-year old DVD will find the Blu-ray release a tempting upgrade given the right price point; for first time buyers it's an obvious and recommended addition to their collections.