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Treasure of Sierra Madre's Ending


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Treasure of the Sierra Madre has long been one of my favourite films. I've always had one quibble about it, though - the closing scene.

 

Even though I think it's a memerable one (if only because Walter Huston's laughter is quite infectious) it just never made much sense to be that two men who have slaved the way they did for a fortune in gold would then burst into laughter because they see the irony of the dust all being blown back to where it originally came from by the wind.

 

This is especially the case since Howard and then Curtain both start laughing within about a miute, or so, of discovering that they have lost their entire fortune. I can understand a person laughing about it after a period of time has passed and they have perhaps found a way to find a positive take on an otherwise negative experience. But to laugh they way they do AS SOON AS THEY DO seems to me, well, not very credible.

 

I might add that I think it would be great if people were capable of having that kind of reaction. Again, love the film but I think the closing scene has very little credibility from what I've seen of human nature.

 

Any comments?

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>I think the closing scene has very little credibility from what I've seen of human nature.

 

One reason people went to the movie in the old days was to get away from real "human nature". They could see that on the outside of the theater. And Hollywood led the world in films by making many that had "happy endings".

 

In real life, the three miners would have had to have made a hard decision about Cody, but in the movie Cody spotted the bandits and saved their lives.

 

In real life they might have killed Cody, then the bandits would have killed them. And then there would be none of them left to come home to tell the story, and we would have no novel or movie.

 

The same with Moby Dick. Without that one survivor, we would have no story and no movie. In real life, many ships have gone down with no survivors, no stories, and no movies.

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Oct 12, 2011 8:39 PM

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Why didn't they get horses to take the gold back, horses would have been much faster than the slow burros. They could have got horses from the villagers after the old guy saved the kid and given the burros to the villagers in exchange.

 

BTW if the gold sort of looked like sand maybe the old prospector gave Dobsy and Curtin real sand that was worthless and got away with it, that's why he was laughing, lol. :0 After the movie he road back and picked up the real gold, and retired rich like he said he would.

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THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is about nothing so much as Fate, with a capital "F"; Howard, by virtue of his age and personality, has always been aware of this; Curtin less so and Dobbs not at all.

 

Dobbs's inability to see this, as exemplified by Howard's insistence on restoring the mountain -- which he refers to as "she" -- is an illustration of his belief that you only get out of life what you put in, and vice versa -- is his ultimate undoing. Curtin, the youngest of the trio, is still malleable enough to come around to Howard's way of thinking and it proves his salvation as, Dobbs wasn't destroyed by the bandits or even his own greed, but by an inability to understand the very life that Fate granted him.

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Look, fooks...

 

These are "movies". These aren't documentaries.

 

This is "art" and "entertainment", and most films were designed to be seen only once and then they would be gone forever.

 

No director planned for a group of 21st Century people to watch a film 100 times and break it apart scene by scene, line by line.

 

Elephants can't really fly by flapping their ears. People having a conversation in real life don't break into a song and dance routine on 5th Avenue in New York.

 

Nazis didn't really speak all English with a British accent.

 

In real life, nobody ever lived happily ever after.

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*It's like *ART * that everyone has a different slant or take or opinion about what the artist is trying to portray. The ending of the movie causes the viewer to have to ponder or think about what the meaning of the laughter of Howard and Curtain really is.*

 

I've never thought that there was ANY ambiguity as to the reason why the two men are laughing. It's because they see the irony of the "joke" played on them by Mother Nature. Perhaps you think the reason for the laughter ambiguous because perhaps, like me, you don't find that explanation satisfactory. That's the problem for me, I really think (again, I say, think, because I don't know) that the filmmakers really were asking the audience to buy that reason, that there was no ambiguity as far as they were concerned. Therefore I find the core of that scene to be hollow, merely, as Fred Dobbs said, the device by which to provide the film with a "happy ending."

 

 

 

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*Elephants can't really fly by flapping their ears. People having a conversation in real life don't break into a song and dance routine on 5th Avenue in New York.*

 

*Nazis didn't really speak all English with a British accent.*

 

Fred, the illustrations that you provided do not apply to Treasure since it was, after all, intended to be a step forward in post-war Hollywood realism. It's because of that that I think the film has to stand up to a little more scrutiny than a lot of films previously produced, certainly from the viewpoint of logic.

 

Having said that, I accept your statement that, in the final analysis, the film is still, just a movie that the producers hope to make a profit and, therefore, certain compromises in reality may occur. That's fair. It's just that I have always loved this film and that particular compromise (the reason for the laughter) always made me cringe because of the hollowness of it's premise.

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So far it appears that none of the posters have disagreed with my original premise, that two gold prospectors in real life would not have burst into laughter when they lost it all, as they do at the end of Treasure.

 

Another nit pick about that same scene (and this is a real nit pick, I admit): why do all the Mexicans on horseback burst into laughter as well, once Walter Huston has told Tim Holt why he's laughing?

Previously, adding to the realism of the production, Huston always had to speak them in Spanish. When he gives the reason for his laughter, however, Huston does it IN ENGLISH. I guess there was a quick translator there for the Mexicans enabling them to all "get the joke" in a hurry.

 

Yes, and I'll say it before someone else does, it's only a movie, not meant to be dissected and analyzed to death. But I bring up the subject anyway. My guess for another compromise of reality in that John Huston thought it would lessen the impact of the scene to add a few more seconds in which someone gives a quick translation to the Mexicans. And in that respect he may have been right, too. Still, it's an aspect of the scene that I have wondered about.

 

Another point about Treasure: Tim Holt's performance. He's fine in the least showy role of the actors, quite sympathetic I feel, and he does nothing to hurt the film. Having said that, I can't help but wonder if original Curtain casting choice John Garfield would not have brought a little more depth to the same characterization. A great film, I feel, might have been even a little bit better. Is this a nit pick on my part? Oh yeah, it is, I'm just speculating on what might have been.

 

Final point: I think Max Steiner's rousing score for the film enhances the adventure aspects tremendously, not do mention the beauty of the soft "cantina music," I'll call it for lack of a better word, in the quieter moments. Yet I have heard that some have criticized Steiner's score. To my ears, it's one of the best things the composer ever did and the film is blessed to have it. Does anyone understand the criticism (I think some may have called the music "over emphatic" - what does that mean-distracting?).

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One of the true joys of watching Treasure is the incredibly layered peformance of Walter Huston, as Howard. It's not possible for me to tire of watching his performance, with additional hats off, of course, to the work of Bogart and Alfonso "We don't need no stinkin' badges" Bedoya.

 

One of my favourite Huston moments is literally the last one that he has in the film. It occurs in the scene in which Howard and Curtain are parting from one another on horseback. What always gets to me is that two, three second moment in which Huston, while pulling his horse away, doesn't take his eyes off Curtain, as if he's trying to drink in all his features. To me, it's the look of a man who knows that he will never see the other man again. And I have to admit it, Huston always chokes me up a little when I see that scene.

 

Does anyone else feel that way, or am I alone in my delusional state?

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Ray, thanks very much for sending us that URL. I've never heard it before and found it quite delightful. That prospector trek motif in Treasure is one of the real delights of that score.

 

I have the Marco Polo release by John Morgan of the score. Could you provide me with the specifics of what I should ask for if I ask for your version?

 

Would you also tell me if it was common practise for Steiner and other composers to rearrange part of a film score in order to turn it into a band arrangement. I assume this would have been done as another way to promote the film associated with it.

 

Somehow I can't quite envision Erich Wolfgang Korngold doing this.

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Tom, I PM'd you regarding the CD.

 

As for dance arrangements, yes, it was common BECAUSE they would use the playback discs as demonstration records for music publishers. I also have Max's dance version for JOHNNY BELINDA on my soundtrack CD for that score. Some of these were done with vocalists (NOW, VOYAGER, TOMORROW IS FOREVER, etc.). Understandably, not too many of these single-cut discs survive.

 

A couple of Korngold songs were published, so I'm sure there were demo recordings.

 

If you go to my Max Steiner pages, you'll find a whole page devoted to Max's published songs. As for SIERRA MADRE, Max's theme was NOT published, but the year before the picture came out, there was a published song by Dick Manning and Buddy Kaye, inspired by the book and forthcoming film.

 

http://chelsearialtostudios.com/maxsteinerpages/maxsteinerpageshome.htm

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>Fred, the illustrations that you provided do not apply to Treasure since it was, after all, intended to be a step forward in post-war Hollywood realism.

 

My illustrations apply to all movies. See "Sunset Boulevard". Modern Hollywood realism. But a dead man can't narrate his own story.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}Look, fooks...

>

> These are "movies". These aren't documentaries.

>

> This is "art" and "entertainment", and most films were designed to be seen only once and then they would be gone forever.

>

> No director planned for a group of 21st Century people to watch a film 100 times and break it apart scene by scene, line by line.

>

> Elephants can't really fly by flapping their ears. People having a conversation in real life don't break into a song and dance routine on 5th Avenue in New York.

>

> Nazis didn't really speak all English with a British accent.

>

> In real life, nobody ever lived happily ever after.

Fred, arent you the same guy who went on and on about how much you disliked *Elevator To The Gallows* because you thought nothing like that would ever happen in real life and it was so unrealistic?

 

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The guy threw a rope up from the third to the fourth floor outside front balcony of a building, to climb up to murder his boss, with the rope on the front street-side balcony of the building, at a busy office building, with a lot of people on the sidewalk below.

 

While trying to escape in his car, he looked up and there was the rope. He forgot to remove it. He and everyone else could see it. People could see him climbing the rope.

 

My suggestion was that he should have used the rope on the backside alley side of the building where there weren't hundreds of people who could clearly see the rope and him climbing up it.

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Just a movie, Fred.

 

Gorillas dont grow to be 100 ft tall, and they dont climb skyscrapers, and single women dont get on freighters with a bunch of strange guys, and there is no way that dinosuars lived, and how did they get Kong on the boat and later into a broadway theater without all new Yorkers seeing it?

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>Gorillas dont grow to be 100 ft tall, and they dont climb skyscrapers, and single women dont get on freighters with a bunch of strange guys, and there is no way that dinosuars lived, and how did they get Kong on the boat and later into a broadway theater without all new Yorkers seeing it?

 

That's my point.

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I think the French movie about the rope and the balcony would have been much better if they had not shown a scene of the guy looking up and seeing his own rope. They could have shot the whole thing without showing the view from the balcony to the street with all the people, and without showing him looking up and seeing the rope. That was a major director's error. He should have never brought the audience's attention to how easy it was to see the rope from the sidewalk below.

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>As usual with your train of thought...I'm at a loss.

 

My train of thought, old Number 97, lost its airbreaks while going down a 3 mile grade on the way from Lynchburg to Danville, many years ago.

 

 

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