U.S.A.| 1947. BLACK AND WHITE. 125 MIN

Watching a heat-crazed Humphrey Bogart staggering across a parched Mexican landscape, the head of Warner Brothers, Jack Warner, was heard to utter: ‘If that son of a bitch doesn’t get water soon, I’m gonna go broke.’ If Huston failed to make him a fortune, he did deliver a classic, a superb fable about a search for gold that only uncovers the vanity of human wishes. Some classic Huston images are here: the old man’s dance of triumph when he first discovers gold; the spine-tingling moment when a Gila monster sneaks under a rock and then squats on Bogart’s money bags, as if anticipating the demons beginning to invade the man’s head (Bogart’s unflinching portrait of the man’s gathering paranoia is masterly); a terrifying murder scene that is like watching a scorpion being cornered by ants, the last ironic laugh, as fate scatters man’s hopes to the winds. Father and son won deserved Oscars—Walter as best supporting actor, John for writing and directing—for what still seems to me Huston’s masterpiece.—Neil Sinyard.

An 8-minute on-screen introduction to this film with Anjelica Huston will precede the screening.

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