The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, western or not?


(Ivn1945) #1

I’d say yes.


(Dillinger) #2

Western or not is always a good question. When does a western start? I think we had a discussion like this somewhere else. I think back then someone said, a western starts around 1840 and ends somewhere round 1920 or so.

Of course this is no accurate way of telling westerns from other flicks.

Usually for me westerns have got something to do with the so called wild west (which can also be found somewhere in Mexico). It has to do with outlaws, the frontier, cowboys (in a quite open definition) and ingredients like that.

TotSM is a western for me. It is set maybe a bit later than “usual” westerns, but apart from that it has got a real western atmosphere and setting.

Sam Cooper, the SW remake of TotSM has undergone one a few changes in setting and no one doubts this one to be a western.


(alk0) #3

I would too


(Phil H) #4

I’d say no.

It may have similar themes to many westerns and could easily be remade into a western but that doesn’t make it a western. It’s set in the 1930s in Mexico.

Last Man Standing has the same story as Fistful of Dollars. That doesn’t make it a western. Johnny Hamlet is a western. That doesn’t make Hamlet a western.

We’ve had these discussions before of course and the only thing most of us agree on is that everyone has their own definition as to what constitutes a ‘proper’ western and what doesn’t. I admit my own definition is at once more rigid than most and yet illogically bendy. As a rule if a film has cars in it I won’t consider it a western. But I make a concession with Zapatas which for no good reason I’m willing to accept.


(Dillinger) #5

OK, Hamlet is no western, but I think, Sierra Madre and Sam Cooper are pretty similar.

The Zapatas are set between 1910 and 1920 in Mexico, but we discuss them here as westerns, so a couple of years make a western? That’S too easy.


(ENNIOO) #6

I would say no.


(Starblack) #7

It’s a semi-Western - how’s that for a compromise?

The setting, themes and some characterisations are very similar to those of conventional Westerns – and even closer of course to ‘Mexican Westerns’ such as The Magnificent Country – but then all those elements are also ‘classical’ in dramatic terms, as others have hinted at with reference to Hamlet.

There’s also a strong flavour of Depression-era dramas, from crime films to The Grapes of Wrath (the novel on which the film was based was written in 1927), which removes the film a little further from the realm of Westerns.

But it’s a fine dividing line all the same


(John Welles) #8

Does this mean you class “The Wild Bunch” not a western, as that has cars in it.


(Dillinger) #9

Once more the problem with the Zapatas…


(Paco Roman) #10

WESTERN ;D
The Novel by the mysterious Mr. B. Traven was first published 1927 !


(Paco Roman) #11

W Django has a car at the end. Western? ::slight_smile:


(Phil H) #12

Well, I did say my definition was illogically bendy :wink:
But to clarify, in general I use a car as a symbol of ‘modern’ society and therefore not conducive to a western which I always view as much as a mythological genre as an historical one.

In the case of The Wild Bunch, it can easily be lumped in with the Zapatas and, as I said, I make an exception for them. Also, it is a film largely about ‘the end of the west’ and as such the appearance of a car is a clear symbol of that theme. Peckinpah uses this again in Cable Hogue where the protagonist actually gets run over by one.


(korano) #13

I think it’s about as Western as you can get.

Cars and the semimodern setting have nothing to do with it in reality. Many westerns have cars. What about films such as Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada? That is definetly Western. TotSM has only a few cars in the beginning but the rest is set in the wilds of Mexico. So what if Bogart wears a fedora instead of a cowboy hat? Aren’t there trains, horses, mules, winchesters, and Mexican bandidos in it? Set in a wild frontier region. Its western.


(Phil H) #14

Not for me.
Three Burials is a modern day drama set in the west. Not the same as a western.


(ENNIOO) #15

Could not agree more.


(Paco Roman) #16

Three Burials has many western elements. For me something like a modern western. Have more problems to see No Country for old Men as Western. :slight_smile:

Just watching The Treasure of Sierra Madre again and at the beginning a newspager can be seen with a date: 14 Feb 1925 :wink: The beginning is not very western like more like a social drama. The mexican Bandits with big sombreros are more western like. :wink:


(Stanton) #17

Not a western for me.
Doesn’t feel like a western, even if it could have been situated without much alterations 40 or 50 years earlier.

The guns and the clothes they wear (especially the hats) are different from typical westerns.
Well, it’s tricky. The Walking Hills (John Sturges, 1949), a film situated in the year of its release, is a western for me.
I’m with Phil, it is not really logic, but with all these films on the edge of the genre it’s simply a matter of feeling.


(Dillinger) #18

The more we talk about this matter the harder it gets to decide. I think it’s really difficult to establish some kinds of western standards. Maybe it is really a matter of personal western feeling that denies all kinds of logic, as Phil and Stanton have put it.


(ENNIOO) #19

Its an individual thing.


(Pistolero) #20

I personally place the limits of the western genre to be from around the 1830s (think of the Alamo battle), to the early 20th Century, probably even to the 1920s. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is set around the 20s or 30s, I believe, so it can fit in as a western, but it is kind of late in the period, and they’re wearing fedoras at this point instead of purely cowboy hats.