Two down and out American expatriates in Mexico team up with an old prospector to look for gold.
1948 Academy Awards: Best Director (J. Huston), Best Supporting Actor (W. Huston), Best Screenplay; 1948 National Board of Review Awards: Ten Best Films of the Year, Best Actor (Huston), 1949 Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture; Best Director (J. Juston); Best Supporting Actor (W. Huston); 1948 Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture. “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is listed in the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” film. This film is ranked #30 on the American Film Institute’s List of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time (2006).
Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Hold, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya.
Children can learn about the crude methods used in mining for gold and of the paranoia that a fortune in gold brings out in some men. The movie is a study in contrasting characters: the trustworthy Curtin on the one hand and the paranoid and avaricious Dobbs on the other. The movie contains some ethical issues that are excellent to work through with children surrounding the question of what the three miners should have done about the stranger who discovers them at the mining site and tries to blackmail them into taking him in as a partner. The miners decide to kill the stranger rather than share their gold. The movie also explores issues of loyalty and trust among the three miners.
SERIOUS. Dobbs and Curtin brutally beat an employer who tries to cheat them out of their wages. The three miners agree to kill the stranger who wants to join them. However, he is killed by bandits and they don’t have to go through with their plan.
Ask and help your child to answer each of the discussion questions beginning with the Quick Discussion Question.
The technique used by these men for gold panning was standard throughout the gold fields. Ore would be brought out of the mine. It would be washed through a sluice so that the larger rocks and any large gold nuggets could be removed. The remaining sand would then be washed through a bowl with ridges along the side, called a “gold pan.” Since the gold was heavier than the surrounding earth, it would stick to the ridges or collect at the bottom of the pan. Eventually, all of the non-gold particles would be washed away or removed and only the gold would be left along the ridges or at the bottom of the pan.
Pyrite (also called fool’s gold) is a glittering mineral which has misled many an inexperienced prospector.
A Gila Monster is one of two types of poisonous lizards, the other being the Beaded Lizard. It grows up to two feet long and is now an endangered species.
1. There were plenty of indications that Dobbs could trust Curtin and Howard, such as when Curtin saved Dobbs’ life and in the Gila Monster incident. What was Dobbs’ reaction?
2. Could Dobbs really be friends with anyone? Justify your answer.
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Be honest; Don’t deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country)
1. Could the partners have ever trusted the stranger?
(Play by the rules; Take turns and share; Be open-minded; listen to others; Don’t take advantage of others; Don’t blame others carelessly)
2. Once the partners agreed to share the results of their future mining efforts with the stranger and he began to help them, did the partners then have an obligation to follow through on the deal, even though the stranger forced them into it in the first place?
Books recommended for middle school and junior high readers include: Gold and Silver, Silver and Gold: Tales of Hidden Treasure by Alvin Schwartz (a mixture of fact and fiction about lost and discovered treasures) and Gold: The True Story of Why People Search for It, Mine It, Trade It, Steal It, Mint It, Hoard It, Shape It, Wear It Fight and Kill for It by Milton Meltzer.
This Learning Guide was last updated on December 18, 2009.