The fulfillment of these dreams comes with a "hook" - it changes you and your humanity.
The only character that money doesn't change is the older prospector, Howard, played nicely by Walter Huston. Not many people reach that level of altruism even if they live to see old age. You have to be born with it.
Bogart's character, Fred Dobbs, is further associated with the hyena. The hyena is a doglike carnivore, having a coarse coat, a sloping back, large teeth, and feeding chiefly on carrion. The animal becomes a metaphor for Fred Dobb's hunger for money. Dobbs is relentless in his gold-stricken paranoia of everybody wanting his share and he is ready to protect it, even if it means murder.
The hyena will bite and hold its prey until its body is cut off and only the head remains, and by that time the victim is dead anyway. Dobbs is bitten by the "taste of gold" and grasps it tenaciously. He kills Bob Curtin, his best friend, partner and "enemy," over the gold. But after the murder he stays alone and thus becomes prey for the bandits. In a way by killing Bob, the "hyena" has decapitated itself.
Removing his only connection to humanity in the face of Bob, Dobbs hangs on to his fortune in a doomed, self-convincing, tirade of erratic reasoning. This delusional and paranoiac behavior ultimately has one way out - you disappear. The film ends in that vain, with all the character's fortune and dreams blown away like "dust in the wind".
4 / 5
Director: John Huston
Staring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett