The film begins as Dobbs is roaming the streets begging for money. He unknowingly walks up to the same man for the third time that day, and asks him, “Can you help a fellow American?” The man tells Dobbs to get a job and gives him money one last time. Dobbs spends the last of his money on a lottery ticket then goes with his friend Curtin to a shelter. At the shelter they hear an old man named Howard talking about mining gold. At first they think nothing of it, but after working a job where they have to fight their boss just to be compensated, the two men return to Howard and they all decide to mine gold. At the point the decision is made, Dobbs gets word that he won the lottery and the men are all set for their adventure.
The three men go off in search of gold in the mountains. First, Dobbs and Curtin believe they found gold only to be told by Howard that it is fool’s gold. The men continue on up the mountain until, eventually, they find what they’re in search of. The men begin to mine and as they continue to get more gold, Dobbs decides he isn’t satisfied with such a small amount. He talks the other men into mining for longer. Dobbs’ greed is ironic because at the start of the film he states that if he had just enough money to get by he wouldn’t need anymore. This shows how much having money changes someone. As time continues, Dobbs begins to become suspicious of the other men, suspecting they want to take his share of the gold and flee. Another man, Cody, also shows up and wants in on their mining plan but is soon killed by bandits.
Eventually, Howard has to leave the group so just Dobbs and Curtin are left to make their way back alone. Dobbs becomes so suspicious and greedy that he ends up killing Curtin and leaving him thinking he is dead. Curtin gets away alive and goes back to where Howard is. Dobbs, however, begins to feel guilty for what he has done, or what he thinks he has done, rather. Later as Dobbs is making his way to Durango, the bandits meet up with him, kill him, and take his burros along with all of the gold. The bandits make their way into a town where they are then executed. Howard and Curtin get news of Dobbs’ murder and go into the town to find their belongings but no gold. The bandits emptied all of the sacks of gold thinking it was sand. The two men are left with nothing, but find joy in the fact that it could have been a whole lot worse: they could have had the same fate as Dobbs. Howard stays with the people he was taken in by and tells Curtin that he will give him his money from the animal skins they’d acquired if he agrees to go into Dallas and talk to the widow of Cody. Curtin agrees and sets off.
I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. After hearing it was a good movie from several people, I wasn’t expecting to be disappointed, but I didn’t have high hopes either. I liked the story line and how it showed that money (or gold in this case) changes people. I liked the irony in that Dobbs believed no amount of money would change him and he wouldn’t be greedy, but as soon as he got money all this was disproven. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the length of the film. After the first hour and a half I was beginning to get antsy. But, when you get past that, it is a really good film.