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This episode is basically a retelling of the classic movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with big Clint in the role Walter Houston made famous. It is an examination of the effects that Greed has on one of the individuals of a party of Gold Seekers. There is an interesting appearance by Rod Taylor in the Tim Holt role. Long time character actor Edward Andrews gamely attempts the frothing Bogie role. It is somewhat quaint to see this smaller scale version of one of Warner's classic movies, but that was in keeping with Cheyenne which attempted to give a big movie look to the small screen. Cheyenne's side kick Smitty, played by a youthful L. Q. Jones is conspicuously absent in this episode. Story with a moral. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Having just watched this episode, I felt compelled to comment on it --
and on the reviews of it here on IMDb.
Yes, this is a re-telling of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. So what? I don't know about the other reviewers, but even when I was young I was often aware that certain episodes of TV series I was watching were re-tellings of classic stories. One that stands out in my mind was the time Richard Basehart's Admiral Nelson of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea found himself in a re- telling of MOBY DICK, made even more intriguing by the fact that he played Ishmael in the original film version.
It was actually fun to see my favorite characters placed into those stories, and it was fun in this case as well. One never for a moment watches this episode and thinks Edward Andrews is trying to play Eugene Dobbs or that Rod Taylor is trying to play Curtin. And it is laughable to think Cheyenne Bodie has anything to do with Walter Huston's portrayal of the prospector Howard. The film of TOTSM was an instant classic, and a TV homage to it from the studio that produced the film is nothing to apologize for (I was amused by the poster who pointed out any idea of this TV episode "stealing" the plot from TOTSM would logically conclude with "Warner Bros. suing Warner Bros.")
I think was a well-done retelling of the story, with excellent performances from the three leads (once you extricate yourself from some foolish need to compare the performances to Bogart, Holt and Huston), and covers some territory the original didn't in terms of the racism against Native Americans. Particularly like how when Cheyenne (the brunt of some of the racism himself) is attacked for wanting to spend time with some "Injuns" in order to help them, comments along the lines of "Well, after spending some time with white people, it sounds like a pretty good idea".
As for the meaning of the title "The Argonauts", the answer is pretty self-evident. What were the Argonauts going in search of? And if you say "some sheep's fur", maybe there's another classic story you might need to revisit.
A curious episode. It attempts to fit "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" into the format of an hour-long TV show, and in the process, it tends to demote Clint Walker from a starring role to a supporting role. Its relatively brief running-time doesn't give Edward Andrews, (yes, Edward Andrews!), sufficient time to make entirely plausible his change in character, and it shortchanges a subplot involving Cheyenne's visit to an Indian village to help an ailing white woman, but the story still holds our interest and it gives Rod Taylor a pleasing role as Andrews's good-hearted partner. Taylor also gets a chance to bare his hairy chest which, though easy on the eyes, obviously can't complete with Walker's 48-incher. (This episode marks the first of many times on "Cheyenne" that Walker takes off his shirt.) In a sort of balancing act, we're introduced to both "good" Indians and "bad" Indians. But one question remains: just why was this episode called "The Argonauts?"
The word "Argonaut" might not be on the tip of many tongues, but long
time movie fans won't have to strain their brains very hard to identify
the origins of this episode.
TV audiences in 1955 didn't have the ability to watch the iconic Treasure of Sierra Madre on home video from their easy chair, so instead, they had to settle for this cringe worthy Warner TV retread of their own movie property. The series producers must have counted on the audience's short memory too, as the movie was less than seven years old at the time of this broadcast.
The Warner Westerns and detective shows of the 50's notoriously recycled Warner's own big screen scripts, and it was an unabashed part of their TV show production formula. Usually though, they did a much better job of finessing and concealing the re-write than this half-baked, paint-by-numbers Cliff Notes version of a first-rate movie. Edward Andrews was a decent TV actor, but he's unintentionally comical impersonating Humphrey Bogart's memorable "Fred C. Dobbs". Rod Taylor listlessly goes through the motions in the Tim Holt role, and Clint Walker, as the affably heroic Cheyenne, is simply a foil here, and hardly a substitute for Walter Huston's amazing Treasure of Sierra Madre performance. The actors looked self-conscious and embarrassed by this assignment, and rightly so.
I'm a big fan of the Cheyenne series, particularly the first season, and the show regularly offered superior scripting and rousing entertainment. Cheyenne moseyed down the wrong trail for "The Argonauts" though, which is a particularly painful-to-watch small screen adaptation of a peerless classic.
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