Interesting. I will admit from the get-go that this was not my cup of tea. It's not my kind of story, mostly. Everything else is. Acting: fantastic, Production Design and Shooting: wonderful, Story: well, interesting, but overall very downbeat.
This movie started off as a book by a writer whose identity is pretty much a secret. There are theories, but nothing definate. It was first released in Germany because the author refused to publish it in a capitalist country. The story is definately about greed and money and power, and mostly corruption.
The story (of the movie specifically) 3 Americans (Bogart, Walter Huston, and Tim Holt) band together while in Mexico to search for gold. That is pretty much all you need to know to start of with. You also should know that it is not a happy movie. This is not your typical Western or a typical anything as far as genre goes. So, it is kind of hard to sell to an audience. However, the one thing it does have going for it is that it is brilliant. That is undisputed.
John Huston directs this, and apparently this was a pet project of both his and Bogarts. Huston also has a cameo in the beginning of a well to do American that Bogart's character keeps asking money from. Bogart is exceptional. I can understand how a fan of Bogart's would not be too keen on this part. It is certainly a departure from anything else he had done. This man is not a gangster, a tough romantic, or any kind of decent. Whatever the character is, Bogart does it brilliantly. His slow drive towards greed and a little bit of madness is fascinating to watch. This is good acting! That also goes for Walter Huston, John Huston's father, who plays the"old man" in the trio. I did not recognize him in this role until I watched the special features and realized that this was the same guy who played George M Cohan's father in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Talk about a switch. He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year - and it is well deserved. Tim Holt is also quite good in a role that was supposedly softened for the film. He plays the mediator, a kind of niave young, go-between. But more than that also. His character is able to stand up to Bogart's in a particularly brilliant scene (I think).
As far as other honors go, this movie also won John Huston Best Director and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (he did both writing and directing). It was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Hamlet that year. It is rated as #30 in the original AFI Top 100 list, and #38 on the 10th Anniversary list. A line from this film has also been rated #36 on AFI's top quotes list "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" And on top of that, it also is #67 on their Top Thrills list. Aside from those, this movie is very easily seen to be a American classic.
So, I will say that the rating is mostly because I appreciate the skill and the historical significance of the film, but again, its not my cup of tea, and its not one I would ever own.
3 out of 5 stars