Word to the mother lode
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The stage version of the Western classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has a Saturday afternoon movie matinee feel to it. Adapted from the John Huston 1948 film classic, this California Stage production is campy and corny, in an entertaining and endearing way.
The cast plays it straight, presenting the story of three American gold miners in search of the mother lode deep in Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains. But the dialogue and story line are pretty hokey, so as soon as the audience realizes they won’t have to dig too deep, they’re along for a fun ride. Which makes the utterance of the movie’s most familiar line—“Badges? I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”—almost audience participation, with everyone laughing in anticipation when they realize the moment has come.
But the true treasure of The Treasure of Sierra Madre is Mitch Arguss. Known by many as local Sacramento kids’ TV host Cap’n Mitch, Arguss is captivating and charming as the rascally old coot Howard. Arguss doesn’t rely on his known commodity as a local celebrity—he has proven over the last couple years that he is an actor to be reckoned with, a stage presence with a pedigree past, with each gesture and grimace a testament to his true talent on stage.
Accompanying Arguss as his two motley mining musketeers are Tom Maguire as Fred C. Dobbs and Derek Byrne as Curtin, as well as Eric Baldwin as LeCaud the Geologist, all who look like they are having a grand time playing off Arguss. The rest of the cast is there to add the Mexican atmosphere, including Fred Goraieb as the “Badges”-uttering bandito who adds a sweet tongue-in-cheek swagger, and Albert Thakur as the mensch of a Mexican mayor.
The Treasure of Sierra Madre is just plain old-fashioned entertaining, corny as Kansas, hokey as pokey, which these days can be a simple treasure in itself.