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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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The majority of Max Steiner's Oscar-nominated and Vienna Film Prize-winning score to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) has circulated on a variety of releases. However, for this Turner Classic Movies expanded edition, all known surviving production elements, including the plot-driven incidental themes, are gathered from Steiner's original work tapes. While the motion picture isn't a musical, the essence of the onscreen visuals is indelibly linked to the arrangers' significant and omnipresent mood-enhancing style. The plot finds prospectors Humphrey Bogart (Fred C. Dobbs), Tim Holt (Curtin), and Pat McCormick (Barton MacLane) searching the hilly United States/Mexican border for gold. Human nature ultimately leads to the characters' demise, as they eventually turn on each other in a sort of modern-day parable of the futility inherent in the sin of greed. Just as director John Huston carefully designs and develops the relationships between the men and their surroundings, Steiner creates a practically palpable aural counterpart that effectively relates similar (if not subtly more) information to listeners, effortlessly corresponding with the story as it unfolds. He even goes so far as to adapt discernible sonic fundamentals in the same way Sergei Prokofiev had done with Peter and the Wolf. For the three gold-diggers, he established the "Pardners" (sic) melody, while the self-explanatory "Madness," "Windstorm," "Water Trough," and "Bandits," et al., are compatible to, if not sonically descriptive of, their respective placement in the movie. The monaural fidelity is to be commended, especially considering that the recordings were well over half a century old prior to their resurrection here, and that most of the existing sounds were gleaned from acetate pressings. There are a couple of interesting bonuses for hardcore cinephiles, such as a pair of variations on the aforementioned "Pardners." The accompanying liner notes booklet is replete with photos, stills, and an essay by producer Ray Faiola.

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Max Steiner
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