The Argonauts

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Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn’t know anyone who knows of a vacancy. This is exactly the reason why he gives you such generous advice, out of brotherly love, and to demonstrate how little he knows the world. 

— B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

“B. Traven” was the pen name of the enigmatic anarchist author of a slew of adventure novels with anticapitalist themes. The best guess is that he was a German actor who used the stage name Ret Marut. Check out the Wikipedia article on B. Traven for an intriguing introduction to this mysterious figure.

Cheyenne dvdOne of his most famous novels was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was made into an even more famous movie by John Huston, likewise called The TreaArgonauts clint walkersure of the Sierra Madre, which won three Oscars.

In 1955 the book also served as the source material for the third episode of a new western series, Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker.

And surprisingly for a TV show in 1955, it’s a pretty good episode that stands up reasonably well today (unlike the first two episodes which are only so-so).

If you know the movie, then you know the plot of the episode. Two prospectors, whose partner has been killed, have lost their way; they come across Cheyenne who, based on their description, can lead them to the site of the gold, so they agree to share with him. But greed rears its ugly head before too long.

Argonauts edward andrewsThe guest stars are Edward Andrews and Rod Taylor, both of whom went on to have long acting careers. While in future years Rod Taylor with his rugged Aussie good looks would naturally be the leading man (think The Time Machine or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds), next to 6’4” Clint Walker he seems positively dwarfed. Oh, well, his time would come.

The episode takes its name from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts who went in search of the Golden Fleece; they in turn took their name from the ship Argo built by Argus, who constructed it under the guidance of Athena.

D.D. Beauchamp, who wrote the script, did a fine job of relocating the original’s Mexican setting to the American West and boiling the story down to its essentials to fit into a 40 minute slot.

That raises a question. This first season of Cheyenne episodes clock in at around 40 to 42 minutes each, unlike the 50 minutes of the later seasons, which was more the norm for TV episodes of that era. I wonder if the episodes for the first season have been cut for syndication? If so, they did a good job, as I didn’t notice any egregious cuts.



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