BrianRxm Coins in Movies 101/110
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
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The 1948 Warner Brothers film "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" shows some Mexican silver pesos
of the type in circulation in 1924.
 
The film stars Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs, Walter Huston as Howard, and Tim Holt as Curtin,
three Americans in 1925 Mexico who go prospecting for gold in Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains.
 
Early in the film, Dobbs is panhandling in a town square and is given silver pesos by a man in a white suit.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1. Title
 
Curtin and Fred C. Dobbs meet in Tampico, Mexico.
Both are living rough, and Dobbs spends time panhandling.
They meet Howard, an old prospector, who tells them about his prospecting adventures.
The two men get jobs, then some money, and join Howard on a gold mining venture into Mexico's
Sierra Madre mountains.
 
They do find gold, construct a mine, and start the hard work.
A fourth man, Cody, shows up and wants to join in, they reject him, but then bandits arrive
and the four engage in a gun battle with them.
Cody is killed in the battle, and the bandits leave, pursued by Federal police.
 
The three men decide to close the mine and take their goods to civilization.
On the way, Howard saves the life of an Indian child, and the Indian tribe invites Howard
to stay with them, an offer he can not refuse.
 
Dobbs and Curtin take the burros and goods and continue, but get into arguments between themselves,
finally pulling guns with Dobbs the victor.
Dobbs, thinking he has killed Curtin, heads down the trail.
The Indians find Curtin, bring him to Howard, the two then ride after Dobbs.
 
Dobbs has met some of the bandits they fought previously, and is killed.
The remaining men find that the bandits tried to sell the burros, and were arrested and shot by police.
The bandits had dumped the bags of gold thinking that it was sand.
 
The men recognize that their hard work gained them nothing, Howard moves back with the Indians,
and Curtin heads back toward the US.
 
A Mexican silver peso plays an important part in the film.
Early in the film, Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) is panhandling with the line:
"Say, Mister - Will you stake a fellow American to a meal?"
An American wearing a white suit gives him a silver peso which is shown in Bogart's hand.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
2. Lottery poster
 
The poster gives the time that the film is set, early 1925.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
3. Fred C. Dobbs spots a likely customer
 
"Say, Mister. Will you stake a fellow American to a meal?".
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
4. First peso reverse
 
The coin appears to be a Mexico peso, listed in the catalog
Krause Coins of the World as number KM 455, size 33mm, 0.720 silver.
It is hard to make out the date of the coin, but they were made from 1920 to 1945.
The coin might be dated 1924 as it looks new in early 1925 when the film is set.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
5. First peso obverse
 
A Mexican peso dated 1924:
 
Mexico peso 1924
6. The real goods
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
7. Dobbs buys lottery ticket
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
8. Dobbs asks for second peso
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
9. Second peso obverse
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
10. Another use for his pesos
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
11. Dobbs asks for third peso
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
12. Third peso obverse
 
He realizes that he has asked the same man three times.
The man gives him a fourth peso, and tells him no more.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
13. Howard, the old prospector
 
Howard tells the younger men about gold.
Say, answer me this one, will you? Why is gold worth some twenty bucks an ounce?
Well, there's no other explanation, mister.
Gold itself ain't good for nothing except making jewelry with and gold teeth.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
14. Dobbs gets some more money
 
These appear to be standard Mexican Revolution motion picture stage money bills.
Since the 1920's, motion picture companies have used these notes, reprinted from
Mexican Revolution (1910-1925) notes issued by the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.
 
An actual Mexican Revolution Sonora state note:
 
Paper Money Mexico Sonora
15. Mexican Revolution Sonora note obverse
 
Paper Money Mexico Sonora
16. Mexican Revolution Sonora note reverse
 
The men pool their money together to start their venture.
They have $600 to start with.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
17. The men ride a train into the mountains
 
The men leave the train and head for the small mountain town of Perla.
There, they purchase burros and other last supplies for the trip.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
18. The men buy some burros
 
Silver coins (pesos) appear on a table.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
19. Fight breaks out
 
The young men think that they have found gold, the old man laughs at them.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
20. Panning for gold
 
This time the old man has found gold traces in the rocks.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
21. Running the mine
 
The young men find out how much hard work mining is.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
22. Gunplay in the mountains
 
The men don't trust each other and each hides his share of gold separately.
"Only I know what kind of ideas even supposedly decent people get when gold's at stake." (Howard)
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
23. Gila monster, a type of lizard
 
Curtin has seen a Gila Monster (a large lizard) go into a hole.
Dobbs' goods are there, also.
 
The mine is a several days trip from the town.
The miners don't want the townspeople to know about the mine.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
24. A stranger appears in town
 
Cody has been wandering around alone, prospecting.
He wants to talk to a fellow American.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
25. The men eating dinner
 
Curtin tells the others about the man he met.
He is sure that the man followed him, as there he is.
The three men allow him to stay for the night but tell him to leave the next morning.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
26. No company wanted
 
Cody warns the men that he has seen bandits nearby.
The men lose interest in Cody, cache their supplies, and dig in for a fight.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
27. Dobbs with a rifle
 
The rifle might be a Winchester model 1894 rifle.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
28. The bandits appear,
 
The bandit "Gold Hat" is with them.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
29. "Gold Hat"
 
"I don't have to show you any stinking badges!".
One of the most famous film lines in history.
 
A gun battle ensues and Cody is killed.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
30. The men decide it is time to leave
 
On the trail out, some Indians appear and ask for help.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
31. Howard and the Indians
 
Howard goes to their village and manages to save the life of a child pulled from water.
Howard then rejoins his partners and the three continue on.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
32. Men and burros
 
Getting the gold, now $105,000 worth, to a railroad is hard work, too.
 
At the 1925 price of gold, $20 per troy ounce, $105,000 worth of gold would be
5250 troy ounces, or about 360 pounds of gold.
 
The Indians reappear and want Howard to stay with them.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
33. The Indians appear again
 
They need to repay him with hospitality for saving the child.
This is an invitation he cannot refuse.
 
The men have never been separated from Howard before.
Dobbs starts to go nuts in the wilderness.
He and Curtin start arguing, then fighting, then pulling guns on each other.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
34. Curtin holds the guns
 
Curtin then falls asleep and Dobbs retrieves the guns.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
35. Dobbs is in charge
 
Dobbs shoots Curtin in the brush and next morning, goes to bury him.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
36. Dobbs with shovel
 
Curtin survived the shooting and crawled away.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
37. Back with the Indians
 
Howard is getting some Indian hospitality.
 
The Indians find Curtin, bring him to Howard, later the two men and some
Indians ride after Dobbs.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
38. Riding after Dobbs
 
The men on horseback travel faster than Dobbs with the burros.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
39. Dobbs is in bad shape
 
Handling burros alone is almost impossible.
 
Dobbs sees a muddy pond and stops for a drink of water.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
40. Dobbs sees a familiar face
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
41. "Gold Hat"
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
42. Off with his head
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
43. The bandits take the burros into town to sell
 
The townspeople recognize the burros as the ones sold to the Americans.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
44. The bandits try to explain
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
45. The bandits are put to work digging graves
 
Their own.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
46. Howard and Curtin arrive
 
They are looking for the sacks of gold.
The townspeople tell them that the bandits thought the sacks contained sand and dumped them.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
47. Howard thinks the situation calls for a laugh
 
All we lost was money and hard work, nothing compared to what Dobbs lost.
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
48. The townsmen also think it is funny
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
49. Howard and Curtin part ways
 
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
50. The End
 
Notes:
 
Cast:
Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs
Walter Huston as Howard
Tim Holt as Curtin
Bruce Bennett as Cody
Alfonso Bedoya as "Gold Hat" (bandit)
 
Director: John Huston
Writers: John Huston, B. Traven (novel)
B. Traven on Gold:
 
From The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven, published in 1935.
 
Anyway, gold is a very devilish sort of a thing, believe me, boys.
In the first place, it changes your character entirely.
When you have it your soul is no longer the same as it was before.
No getting away from that.
 
You may have so much piled up that you can't carry it away;
but, bet your blessed paradise, the more you have, the more you want to add,
to make it just that much more.
 
Men, Christians and Jews alike, are so greedy or brave where gold is at stake that,
regardless how many human beings it may cost, as long as the gold itself
does not give out and disappear, they will risk life, health, and mind,
and face every danger and risk conceivable, to get hold of the precious metal.
 
Not dirty, baby. No, not dirty.
Only I know whom I am sitting here with by the fire and what sort of ideas
even supposedly decent people can get into their heads when gold is at stake.
 
The gold worn around the finger of an elegant lady or as a crown on the
head of a king was more often than not passed through hands of creatures
who would make that king or elegant lady shudder.
 
There is little doubt that gold is oftener bathed in human blood than in hot suds.
A noble king who wished to show his high-mindedness could do no better than
have his crown made of iron.
 
Gold is for thieves and swindlers.
For this reason they own most of it.
The rest is owned by those who do not care where the gold comes from or
in what sort of hands it has been.
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