The Treasure of the Sierra Madre appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie consistently looked quite good.
Not many issues with sharpness appeared. Some softness interfered with occasional wider shots, but those issues remained largely insubstantial. Overall, the movie seemed well defined and crisp. No problems with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes were absent.
Black levels were reasonably deep and dense, and shadows appeared clear and appropriately opaque. Low-light shots showed nice clarity, as they never became too thick or impenetrable. Source flaws failed to become a distraction. The movie was consistently clean and free from blemishes. The occasional signs of softness knocked this down to a “B+”, but I easily could’ve gone with an “A-“, as the movie really looked nice.
The monaural soundtrack of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre seemed fine for its age. Speech consistently sounded intelligible, and only minor edginess ever interfered. Effects mostly seemed acceptably clean and accurate; any distortion attached to louder elements appeared mild.
Music was about the same. The score lacked much range, but it came across as fairly clear and distinctive. While this audio never surpassed age-related expectations, I thought it was pretty nice given its vintage.
How did the quality of this Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Both showed improvements. The Blu-ray’s audio seemed a bit clearer and lacked some of the DVD’s rough edges. Both were fairly similar, but the Blu-ray’s track got the nod.
The visuals offered more obvious growth. The Blu-ray provided a substantially cleaner print, and it also boasted stronger definition and depth. The DVD’s image was average, but the Blu-ray looked pretty terrific.
Most of the DVD’s extras reappear here. We begin with an audio commentary from Bogart biographer Eric Lax. He offers a running, moderately screen-specific track that proves to give us a very solid examination of the film. Lax touches on pretty much every important topic related to Treasure. He discusses the story’s genesis, its reclusive author, its path to the screen, biographical notes about many participants, and scads of great notes from the set. We learn of studio chief Jack Warner’s growing concerns about the movie’s elongated shoot as well as animosity between John Huston and Bogart when the production ran long. Lax contributes many fine anecdotes and helps create a consistently informative and entertaining chat.
A creative and fun addition to the set, Warner Night at the Movies attempts to replicate the cinematic experience circa 1948. As explained via a three-minute and 45-second introduction from Leonard Maltin, this feature includes a preview for Key Largo, a flick from the same era as Treasure, plus a period newsreel, an animated short called Hot Cross Bunny and a comedic short entitled So You Want to Be a Detective.
These are the kinds of pieces that might have preceded a theatrical showing of Treasure, so if you activate this feature, you get an attempt to duplicate a night at the cinema. I like this program and think it’s quite clever. Use the “Play All” option to run each of these features and then automatically launch into Dandy.
Next comes a documentary called John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick. It runs a whopping two hours, eight minutes, and five seconds as it examines the director’s life and career. Narrated by Robert Mitchum, we find clips from many Huston movies along with archival materials and interview comments from Huston, Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Evelyn Keyes, Michael Caine, Arthur Miller, Marietta Tree, Michael Fitzgerald, Tom Shaw, Anjelica Huston, Ossie Morris, Danny Huston, Zoë Sallis, and Lord and Lady Hemphill
Created in 1988, “Maverick” takes a close look at Huston’s life and career. It starts at the beginning and progresses steadily through his death in 1987. Virtually every element – personal and professional – receives good scrutiny, and though the documentary clearly respects and admires Huston, it never feels like a hagiography; the director’s flaws and foibles receive full airing. It’s an entertaining and illuminating program.
Another documentary appears via Discovering Treasure: The Story of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The 49-minute and 55-second piece mixes shots from the flick, archival materials, and interviews with Eric Lax, director Martin Scorsese, film historians Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin, Bob Thomas and Robert Osborne, biographer Judy Stone, actress/Huston’s ex-wife Evelyn Keyes. The program covers the movie in a solid manner. It starts with the origins of the novel and gives us some early career notes about Bogart and Huston. It then traces the production and lets us know about the various important elements. Between Lax’s excellent commentary and the Huston documentary, we’ve already heard a lot of this information, but “Discovering” nonetheless offers a nicely efficient examination of the movie.
After this we find a seven-minute and five-second cartoon called 8 Ball Bunny. The 1949 short shows Bugs as he attempts to help a lost penguin find his way to the South Pole. It’s a reasonably amusing cartoon, though it presents only a brief connection to Treasure via a running cameo from an animated Bogie.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate a Lux Radio Theater Broadcast of Treasure from April 18, 1949. In this dramatization of the story, Bogart and Walter Huston reprise their roles, but no other original cast members appear. Huston also acts as narrator. As necessary, the show omits many elements from the movie and it doesn’t tell the tale terribly well, but it seems generally entertaining nonetheless, and it’s a cool addition to the set.
Does the Blu-ray lose any bonus materials from the DVD? Yup. It drops a Bogart trailer gallery, some text notes, and still galleries. None of these were stellar components, but they would’ve been nice to have here as well.
A worthwhile entry on the AFI 100 list, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre works for those who want a manly adventure or who prefer something with more subtext. It benefits from generally excellent acting, a compelling story, and deft direction. The Blu-ray gives us good picture and sound along with a terrific set of supplements. The Blu-ray delivered a strong presentation of a classic film; it’s a must-have and a fine upgrade for fans who already own the old DVD.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE