Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1948. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by John Huston, based on the novel by B. Traven. Cinematography by Ted D. McCord. Produced by Henry Blanke. Music by Max Steiner. Production Design by John Hughes. Costume Design by Robert Odell, Ted Schultz. Film Editing by Owen Marks. Academy Awards 1948. Golden Globe Awards 1948.
Three men, two drifters and an old coot, band together to go looking for gold in the mountains of Mexico. They find bags of it, but it isn’t long before human greed and paranoia divide and set them against each other. Humphrey Bogart has one of his best roles in this John Huston film, one of the most unlikable characters he’s ever played and one of the most compelling. It is his monstrously weak will that sets the events of the film in motion, with the more rational Tim Holt trying to keep things rolling while Walter Huston (in one of his most memorable performances) looks on at the both of them and laughs. John Huston’s direction is airtight and his script very well written, though at times the film’s theme hangs over the story too blatantly and the characters’ downfall is easily telegraphed from early on (The Wages Of Fear would be made a few years later, stylistically and thematically similar and better at both). Still, it’s one of the highlights of the forties and, although I’d rather watch The Maltese Falcon, one of Huston’s very best works.