I don't think I ever finished this one and therefore never posted it. The draft is just a collection of ideas with no conclusion.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
John Huston (1948)
As soon as we hear Bogart boast that he would never succumb to gold fever, that he would be able to stop himself from digging further once having reached his initial goal and that he would not give into the frightening paranoia of successful diggers, we know Treasure of the Sierra Madre can only end in one way for him. And so we watch as Bogart, slowly and irrevocably descends into inescapable madness.
What makes that descent so terrible is that Bogart is not a bad man ; or rather, I should say he is not a worse man than others. The characters here are never bad, except maybe for the desperados, but they are certainly never good either. Bogart is no more evil nor more crazy than the rest. By the beginning of the digging, he and Curtin are almost indistinguishable. Both were desperate Americans begging for scraps and yearning to find work in a Mexican border town. Both had the same ability for violence but seemed equally friendly and amiable.
Like a mosquito bite, gold fever would seem to strike at random.
The second tragedy is that, ultimately, all of it, the madness included, was for nought. The gold is washed away by the exhalation of the laugh of the gods of irony. In an instant countless sacrifices count for nothing, both for the result and to the characters. They brush aside their loss like a hilarious joke of the destiny. So what was it all for ? Did they risk so much for something that, in the end, they gave up so easily ? The ending of the movie suggests a message about true happiness. It is not its best part.
Everything leading up to that though, is far better. We see where the characters come from and who they are in expansive detail, and yet the beginning never feels overlong. We witness the hardships of gold digging and the value of a seasoned prospector to a group of novices. There isn't any lengthy exposition about the technique of it all and yet it all appears to us seamlessly and the workings of this foraging operation are as transparent as if they had been explained through voiceover.
Bogart's character arc is perhaps the biggest achievement of the movie. The different stages of his paranoia are subtly handled. No one section of the movie, except its ending, is entirely dedicated to them. We are administered droplets of it on occasion, but our attention remains mostly focused on other things: the mining operation, an altercation with a newcomer, a group of bandits, etc.