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Howard (Walter Huston) and Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) have differing views on gold in classic American Western

Howard (Walter Huston) and Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) have differing views about wealth and success in classic American Western

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Friday, July 5, free with $7 bar minimum, 9:30

“I know what gold does to men’s souls,” crusty old prospector Howard (Walter Huston) says early on in the classic 1948 Western The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Written and directed by Walter’s son, John, the psychological tale of greed and paranoia stars Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs and Tim Holt as Bob Curtin, a pair of penniless drifters in Tampico, Mexico, who join up with Howard to go after gold in the mountains, where they face not only the elements but bandits, thieves, and their own fears. And once they do find a potential source of wealth, their budding relationship starts to turn toxic, primarily as Dobbs grows suspicious of everything and everyone that comes close to him. Based on the novel by B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is masterfully told by Huston, who also directed Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, Across the Pacific, Key Largo, The African Queen, and Beat the Devil. This is a different kind of Bogie, constantly peering over his shoulder, not nearly as cool as he usually is. He even looks different, especially after getting a haircut and then growing a beard and mustache out in the desert. Huston, who also plays the man in the white suit who gives change to Dobbs, won Oscars for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and his father won for Best Supporting Oscar; the film lost Best Picture to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet. It all plays out like a kind of heist movie, with an unforgettable ending that perfectly captures Howard’s surprising Zen-like spirit. And yes, this is the film in which Gold Hat (Alfonso Bedoya) utters that immortal phrase, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is screening July 5 as part of the Rubin Museum’s Cabaret Cinema series “Say a Little Prayer,” held in conjunction with the exhibition “Count Your Blessings,” which opens August 2 and explores the use of prayer beads in various Buddhist traditions. The series continues through August 30 with such other great films as Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons, and Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician.

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