DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Sep 30, 2003.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1948
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 126 Mins.
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (OAR)
    Audio: DD Mono
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish





    The Feature:
    To say that I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the Warner Legends Set, would be a colossal understatement. Other than the four pending Bogart titles due to release in November, the release of this set couldn’t have come sooner. It was my intention to review this set and post them ASAP unfortunately, I only received them yesterday afternoon.

    The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre is heralded as one of the best motion pictures ever made with an impressive AFI ranking of #30 of all time. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and took home three including Best Supporting Actor (Walter Huston), Best Director (John Huston) and Best Writing, Screenplay (John Huston). After a string of recent box office failures, the release of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and Johnny Belinda were instrumental in helping Warner Brothers regain much of the company’s lost prestige from the previous few years. In light of the fact it was one of the most expensive WB shoots up to that point ($3,000,000.), it was rumored that John Huston and Jack Warner fought furiously as to the ending of the movie including Bogart’s fate. And, as much as I like Humphrey Bogart, I’ve always felt that the movie wouldn’t have been the success it was, without the presence of Walter Huston. His quick witted quips and his explosive tirade on his two partners at the start of their exploration surely sets the tone of the movie.

    The movie starts off in Tampico, Mexico where an American, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) who is down on his luck and always looking for his next meal. After several chance encounters and cameos by Director John Huston in a great scene which includes a stern lecture that he wasn’t to be bothered by his constant panhandling for money again, meets up with another American, Bobby Curtin (played by Tim Holt) suffering the same fate. Soon they go to work for another American, an oil businessman Pat McCormick (played by longtime tough guy, Barton MacLane), requiring men as laborers who winds up stiffing the pair for the outstanding wages he owes them. After a chance meeting (and a bit of persuasion…), Dobbs and Curtin get their money.

    After a night in a shelter, the tipsy pair befriend an old prospector, Howard (played by Walter Huston) and plan an exploration to search for gold in the nearby mountains. With their money pooled, Dobbs and his new friend Curtin have just enough money to purchase the supplies they need for their trip to the infamous Sierra Madre Mountains in search of gold.

    During the operation, an enigmatic stranger shows up at camp and initially the group isn’t sure what his purpose for being there truly is. They also encounter a group of ruthless bandits who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

    Once the gold dries up, they decide to pack up and head back into town and cash in their booty. Crossing the treacherous desert however, isn’t going to be easy as they have to stay one step ahead of everyone else.



    Video:
    Incredible!

    Are there flaws…? Well, I’d be suspicious of a 55 year old film that didn’t have flaws… While I was expecting this to be a very good video presentation, I really got a lot more than I bargained for. There are many scenes in this movie that rival the recent Casablanca release and its 3D like image. Unfortunately Treasure has a few flaws but this is sure to impress. And it starts right off the bat during the opening scene when we see the close-up of Bogart – the impressive levels of detail, black levels and the velvety smooth filmlike image are beautiful. What also lends to the image quality is the shadow detail… most impressive. Grain is present at times although minimally. There were a few scratches and some mosquito noise was at times present, but not to a point of distraction. No sign of any edge enhancement.

    Clearly, the discussion in the recent WB thread discussing the horizontal banding is unmistakably evident. It starts around the 91:10 minute mark. I also noticed a series of small horizontal light jitter primarily on the left side of the screen at the 93:50 mark. While it’s difficult to describe, it looks similar to a DNA profile band that flickers (hope that makes sense…). While it’s unclear as to what seems to have caused this horizontal banding, it certainly doesn’t persist for long nor is it very bothersome. As for the cause, that’s hard to say and frankly, I’d just as soon leave that in the hands of the many experts who post here on a regular basis. What is clear, is that the only real trouble spot during the entire movie is between the 91:10 – 93:50 minute mark. And even at that, it doesn’t scream out…


    An absolutely fabulous video presentation…



    Audio:
    The Treasure audio mix is DD Mono and is for the most part, very solid. Dialogue was usually very clear and many of the action scenes were as dynamic as we would expect on a Mono soundtrack. Typically, with such a soundtrack, my biggest complaint is hiss and I’m happy to report it is non existent on this disc. The wonderful score of Max Steiner came across very nice and certainly adds to the sense of suspense when it needs to.

    At times there were a few instances where Bogart’s (in particular) dialogue seemed slightly compressed – slightly distorted. Also at times dialogue with pronounced sibilance seemed slightly treble heavy. These observations were very minor in nature and were never to a point that I was distracted.

    Solid… very nice!



    Special Features:

    Let me start by saying this is without question the most impressive group of special features I have ever watched on our beloved format thus far. All of the commentaries, documentaries and biographies are extremely informative and really aid in the presentation of this movie and the history surrounding those who worked on the project. Besides the feature film on Disc One, the first extra is a Commentary By Eric Lax who is a Bogart historian and obviously very knowledgeable about the topic at hand as well as the history of the movie including many unknown tidbits and surprise cameos in the movie. Duration: 126:01.

    Warner Night At The Movies: Included is an informative commentary by Leonard Maltin, A Theatrical Trailer for Key Largo, A Movie Newsreel, the comedic spoof - “Philip Snarlowe”; So You Want To Be A Detective with George O’Hanlon. Duration: 10:54 Mins. Also included in this segment is the animated WB short Hot Cross Bunny which certainly whets the appetite for the upcoming WB Golden Collection. Duration: 07:12 Mins.

    Next up is a Bogart Trailer Gallery. A notable collection of the star’s impressive works… including some not yet released on the DVD format. This is a great little feature inclusion.

    Finally on Disc One is Cast & Crew and Awards listing the roles and specific awards respectively.

    Disc Two starts off with a somewhat dated but extremely informative documentary and biography of the great John Huston, titled; John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick. It’s hosted by the late great Robert Mitchum and is filled with information pertaining to the great writer/director. Duration: 128:08 Mins.

    Up next is Discovering Treasure: The Story of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. This is a shorter commentary narrated by John Milius. It starts with a brief history and geography lesson and how it relates to the Mexican region where the film was shot. There is also coverage on the history of Bogart’s career as well as information on the illusive B. Traven who wrote the original novel. Duration: 49:56 Mins.

    One of my personal favorite WB animated shorts; 8 Ball Bunny. The inclusion of these WB shorts on the respective films they are parodying is simply brilliant. When we’re younger, we certainly don’t have the same sense of appreciation for these shorts, that is, until they are put up alongside the original source of their material. With my best Brooklyn accent... Pawdon me, but can you help out a fellow American down on his luck…?. Great stuff…

    Lux Radio Theater Broadcast – 04/18/1949. Starring Bogart and Huston. Although I didn’t spend a lot of time with this it’s interesting to hear where the story starts (compared to the film). Audio quality seemed OK… slightly distorted in spots.

    Finally, Treasure Trove Galleries:

    -Storyboards
    -Dressed Set Stills
    -Cast & Crew (many old and great photos during filming)
    -Publicity & Posters (shows many newspaper articles as well as many of the various posters used to promote the film).

    As I mentioned above, you won’t find a more comprehensive group of special features containing truly great information relevant to a featured film. Most impressive.



    Final Thoughts:
    The story of these rogues in search of gold really has little to do with what’s being told in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. It’s a story of greed – plain and simple and its affects on an individual as we witness mistrust and paranoia.

    The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre is, without question, one of the finest movies ever made. This recent release which offers a fabulous audio and video presentation and includes hours of worthwhile special features, is an absolute must for any fan of classic films. I truly cannot recommend this disc highly enough. Highly Recommended..!!!




    Release Date: September 30th, 2003
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the review Herb. It is comforting to know that this movie is getting a first-rate treatment.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Herb,
    Great review, I agree with you about the video transfer and found the overall dvd presentation very impressive.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Well done Herb; nice review. I can't wait for my box set to ship...

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  5. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    My box set was shipped today! Can't wait for it!
     
  6. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    I am also in anticipation waiting for my set to arrive.

    Herb

    Just curious, you mentioned Johnny Belinda. Can you shed any info on that film and is it out on dvd

    Thanks

    Oscar

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Herb,
    Lax's commentary is really interesting to me because in the first 10 minutes of it I noticed a possible mistake or two on his part which really makes me want to listen to the entire commentary.

    First off, Ann Sheridan is credited as the streetwalker in a cameo, but if you freeze frame the shot as she walks by it really doesn't look like her at all and I'm not talking about the dark hair. Maybe, she had a really heavy makeup job, but I've watched that scene frame by frame about four times now and I swear it isn't her.

    Secondly, that wasn't Jack Holt talking to Bogart and Tim Holt in the bar. That actor's name is Pat Flaherty, a character actor that appeared in several Warner productions back in the day. I think Jack Holt, who was the father of Tim and was a silent film star had his cameo later on in the film.

    I know I'm anal, but I found those issues kind of interesting. I ought to start a thread in Movies to talk about this great film in more detail so I don't hijack this thread too much. By the way, I really think this is Bogart's greatest acting performance.





    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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  9. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Thanks Herb for the fast reply.

    Can you tell me anything else ?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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  11. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

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    Herb,

    Sold!!! Great review... I'm driving to Best Buy after work to pick this up!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Jason Walstrom

    Jason Walstrom Supporting Actor

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    Is this the film that originated the famous quote; "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges? and I'll pick it up anyway but i was wracking my brain thinking this was the one.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  14. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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  15. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    man... you're fast...
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    You got it.[​IMG]

    Though I loved that line my favorite is Walter Huston's line to Bogart and Holt when it says the following:

    "You're so dumb.

    There's nothing to compare you with.

    You're dumber than the dumbest jackass."

    Now, that's some classic dialogue![​IMG]





    Crawdaddy
     
  17. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Just a small, totally anal point: the gold didn't dry up; they could have collected a lot more but decided not to stretch their luck much futher.
     
  18. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Alan... If you forward to Chapter 23, it shows the three men panning for gold and getting very little. Walter Huston states .. we've taken about all the gold this mountain has...

    Herb.
     
  19. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Great review Herb!

    The box set should be arriving at my door any day now...

    dave [​IMG]
     
  20. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

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    Hmmm, sounds like a purchases for me. Got to love classic movies, as there a ton of them out of there and almost all of them are gold (pun not attended).
     

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