The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), based upon B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, we receive wise instruction on the corrupting influence of greed. Three American prospectors, resolving to leave behind a life of poverty in Mexico, successfully find gold up in the mountains. Beset by bandits, potential rivals and their own suspicions, the characters resort to murder and theft to keep hold of the bags of gold dust they have mined. Unable to trust each other, they hide their jars of gold in secret locations. One of the three, Fred Dobbs, played by Humphrey Bogart, steals the others’ share until he himself is murdered by bandits who, not recognising the gold, allow it to be discarded and blown away. Later on, one of the prospectors remarks: “It’s a joke played on us played by the Lord. The gold has gone back to the place we found it.”

Some lines from the film which made me smile include:

“I never knew a prospector yet who died rich. Makes one fortune and then blows it trying to find another.”

“I know what gold does to men’s souls.”

“Stop splashing that water around! Sometimes water’s more precious than gold.”

And to these words of wisdom, what says the God of heaven?

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold? and to get understanding, is more to be desired than silver. (Proverbs 16:16: Geneva, 1599)