SUBTEXT: Staking Claims in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) (Part 1)

It’s considered the definitive film on greed, a demonstration of just what the lust for gold can do to a man’s heart. Fred C. Dobbs starts out as a down-on-his-luck panhandler in a poor Mexican town and comes into a fortune of over $100,000 before the film’s end. Yet, in more ways than one, Dobbs never stops panhandling, never stops being subject to the vagaries of fate, to forces that might just as soon give as take away his fortune, and to the darkness within himself that he can neither understand nor control. Perhaps the film doesn’t chart his moral corruption and gradual descent into greed-fueled madness so much as it critiques the system that turned Dobbs into a beggar in the first place—a system which, the film might argue, teaches all of us to stick out our hands (and our necks) in the pursuit of profit. Wes & Erin discuss John Huston’s 1948 classic, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

Part Two is already available to SUBTEXT subscribers.

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