The films High Noon, directed by Fred Zinneman, and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, directed by John Houston, bring rise to the question of self benefit or selflessness through the main characters. The lead role in High Noon is Marshall Will Kane who has restored a town, Hadleyville, from its atrocious past. Even though Kane has recently retired due to his marriage, he comes to face the eminent destruction of the Hadleyville again when his enemy Frank Miller and his gang return. Howard, the main character of the film Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is a wise cracking old man who meets two men and agrees to help them hunt for gold. Although both characters play a similar role of leadership, they both possess contrasting motives behind their goals.
Howard and Marshall Kane are put into positions that force the audience to decide whether their actions are of self-indulgence or for the benefit of those around them. Howard meets two men, Dobbs and Curtin, in the El Oso Negro dormitory and decides to join them on their quest for gold. Dobbs and Curtin both have little to no knowledge of gold mining, but Howard offers them his expertise that he has gained through past gold mining experience. Before Howards goes on this hunt for gold, he warns the men that gold can change a man and drive them down the path of insanity. Howard teaches the men how to mine for gold and tries to keep the peace when Dobbs begins to form paranoia about his gold. One can believe that “[h]oward is knowledgeable about mining and human nature, ethical in his conduct, reasonable in his dealings with men, aware of his own weaknesses, committed to helping others in the group develop a similar awareness and, by the end of the film, fully aware of life’s essential dilemmas and of humanity’s limitations” (Graebner 32). He gets through to Curtin who trusts Howard and maintains a mental clarity, but Dobbs succumbs to the gold paranoia.
When Dobbs acts in aggression towards the group, Howard tries to maintain the peace revealing he desires the best for all. His actions to maintain the peace are necessary so the group will benefit as a whole and continue to help one another mine for gold. On the other hand, Graebner states “Howard’s defects, including his concerns with his own self-interest and, especially, his rather surprising acquiescence in the ‘majority’ decision to kill Cody.” His agreement to kill Cody (a traveler that wanted to mine with them) portrays a greedier side of Howard and conveys his unwillingness to share any more of their wealth. Although he shows this alternate side, Howard ultimately intends to mediate and keep peace within the group for the benefit of everyone. He later proves his good incentives when he saves the life of a young boy, helps maintain the peace between the men, and accepts without anger that their gold had been lost.
Marshall Kane on the other hand has good motives for defeating his rival Frank Miller, but gives reason to believe that his efforts...