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    SUBJECTS — Science-Technology; World/Mexico;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS --- Trustworthiness; Fairness.
    Age: 12+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1948; 126 minutes; B & W; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:    Two down and out American expatriates in Mexico team up with an old prospector to look for gold.

    Benefits of the Movie:     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.

    Possible Problems:    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.

    Parenting Points:     Ask and help your child to answer each of the discussion questions beginning with the Quick Discussion Question.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  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).

      Featured Actors:  Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Hold, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya.

      Director:  John Huston
  QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:  Did the stranger have the right to try to force the partners to share their discovery with him?

Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer. The stranger had no right to participate but then again the miners didn't really have any right to the gold because they were mining in violation of Mexican law.

For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

    Helpful Background:

    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.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: fool's gold, pyrite, goods (slang for mined gold), Federales, "not one red cent," "bump him off."

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    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.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.
    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    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?

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

    Bridges to Reading: 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.

    Links to the Internet: None.

    Bibliography: None.

    Last updated December 18, 2009.

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