Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges

The best reaction to a ridiculous question; Image:
The best reaction to a ridiculous question. Image:

B. Traven (18??-1969?) was a popular novelist who never gave interviews. Not even his publishers knew him; they communicated with someone claiming to be his agent via a Mexican postal box.

Traven might have been onto something. The great thing about not generating your own publicity is that others will do it for you – and they’ll create fantastic stories. For example, some say Traven was the illegitimate son of German Emperor Wilhelm II. Others say he was actually the novelist Jack London who had faked his death and moved to Mexico. (According to Wikipedia, Life magazine allegedly offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could find this elusive fellow.)

Traven wrote several adventure novels, which may or may not have mirrored his own life. His most famous novel, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, was released as a Hollywood film in 1948, starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston.

Now, if you’ve never seen The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, you should stop reading right now and go watch it. This cautionary tale about the nature of greed was filmed on location in Mexico, and was director John Huston‘s third feature film.

Bogart and Tim Holt play two broke American ex-pats living in Mexico. When they meet a crazy but knowledgeable gold prospector (Huston), the three decide to pool their resources to mine gold in the Mexican mountains. They find an astounding amount of gold, but they have to protect it from unwelcome visitors – and each other.

Walter Huston (left) mentors Humphrey Bogart (centre) and Tim Holt. Image:
Would you trust these men with your new-found wealth? Image:

This film is gritty with dust and the dark side of human nature. The gold find, the discovery that was to bring happiness, casts a shadow that grows larger and colder, despite the bright Mexican sun.

Huston’s character warns us about this early in the film. “I know what gold does to men’s souls,” he says ominously. Soon we’re wondering if the three partners can survive their own success.

It’s an engaging, cynical script that tells us what we need to know about the characters in few words. For example, when Bogart and Holt first meet, their conversation tells us the two men are destitute drifters:

Bogart: “[This is] some town to be broke in.”
Holt: “What isn’t?”

But the most memorable line of all involves some stinkin’ badges.

Bogart is prepared to defend his claim. Image: YouTube
You can’t get past Bogart without badges. Image: YouTube

Bogart, Huston and Holt are mining gold in an isolated mountain area, but they are soon overrun by bandits. Bogart decides to confront the bandits, and they tell him they’re Federales (mountain police). Bogart doesn’t believe them and starts grilling the leader (Alfonso Bedoya).

Bogart: “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
Bedoya: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”

Here’s the exchange, below:

Bedoya is superb in this scene. It’s almost like he’s trying to figure out what planet Bogart is living on. Remember, Bedoya’s character is a man who has robbed and killed – and worse – and here he is, having a conversation with some moron about badges.

His stinking badges line has been parodied many times in film and online, such as:






(Click on above images for sources.)

Of course, we’ve touched on just a couple of the zillion reasons why you should watch The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. We’re serious – if you haven’t watched it yet, make haste to see it!


  • Click HERE to see all the theories on B. Traven’s real identity.
  • For background on the filming of Sierra Madre, see John Huston’s memoirs, An Open Book (1972).

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt. Written & Directed by John Huston. Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., 1948, B&W, 126 mins.

This post is part of the Classic Quotes Blogathon hosted by The Flapper Dame. Click HERE to see this week’s fab entries.

Classic Quotes Blogathon



  1. Great post! I love the fact this quote gives humor to the situation and the delivery of the line is so dry-which make it even funnier! The added memes are perfect!- Too funny!!! Thank you so much for taking part in my first blogathon and I hope that we can continue to participate in each other blogathons in the future!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I didn’t know the thing about B. Travin. How cool is that? I work several conventions each year including Comic-Con International, and you wouldn’t believe how many times you hear, “Badges? We ain’t got no stinking badges.” at a place like Comic-Con.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you hear the Stinkin’ Badges line all the time at Comic-Con, but I bet a person gets tired of it?

      Yeah, doesn’t B. Traven sound like a character from one of his own books? His life (and rumours about his life) would make for an interesting biopic or doc.


  3. My fave take on that quote was heard in India, when I was hanging out with my Muslim bros there (I’m a Muslim, too). They were looking for a particular cd on the floor of the car, and a bro found one of Hindu Bhajans (pronounced ‘buh-junn’). My pal Malik bhai squished up his face and said, “Bhajans? We don’t need no steenkin’ Bhajans!”

    I almost died from laughter.

    Liked by 1 person

      • One long, incredible month, sigh. New Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar, etc. The Punjab express. Went to Mughal palaces, The Sikh Grand temple, studied Sikh sword and staff at their school, rode horseback through the wilds with my friend Sarpartap ji from the Indian army (retired), tried Neza Bazi (tentpegging, like in Lives of a Bengal Lancer), ate Biryani every day, and got (wonderfully) cornered into leading a prayer at a big Mosque. It was fan-tastic. A 100% Phantom Empires experience all around. I’ll be returning next year, God willing…Lucknow is my kinda town.

        And yes, I did wear my pith helmet. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I had never seen the poster about “no stinkin’ badgers”–that’s hilarious! Yes, TREASURE is indeed a treasure. It may be my favorite John Huston film and his dad gives the best performance in it. I was totally unfamiliar with the stories about B. Traven. That was intriguing, to say the least!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think this film is my fave Walter Huston performance. He is completely believable as that character.

      Soeaking if characters, the author, B. Traven, seemed to be quite a character himself, no? I was astounded to read all those wild theories about him.


  5. What a great film! I am so glad you mentioned it, Ruth. It’s about time I watched it again. And the “Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers” line never fails to make me chuckle. Glad you mentioned that, as well. Now I’m off to Netflix to find this film. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a film you could see repeatedly and not get tired of it. So many great lines and characters, and interesting scenery, too. Plus, I find Walter Huston’s performance truly fascinating – I believe he IS that gold prospector.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really love this movie! I’ve seen it a couple times, but learned so much about it from your post. The quote and memes are so fun! I didn’t know about the mystery surrounding the author. I love Walter Huston as the gold prospector and totally agree with you, “he is that gold prospector.” This movie was amazing to me because of how you witness the gradual change in each man’s character as greed and fear overtake them. It’s powerful to watch. Thanks for all the great information about one of my favorite movies, Ruth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make an excellent point, Shari, about the gradual changes in each man’s character. So true! It’s almost like Huston & Bogart trade places – one becomes less crazy & the other becomes more. It’s one of my fave movies, too.


  7. Ah, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre! One of my dad’s all-time favourite films. He still quotes the “stinkin’ badges” line (which I’ve also been quoting ever since I was a wee thing), along with various others from the film… and we both particularly admire Walter Huston’s performance!

    Thanks for a great post, & also for that priceless badgers meme!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a terrific film, isn’t it? I don’t thing it gets the attention it deserves these days, despite the “stinking badges” line. I agree Walter Huston is SUPERB on this film. It’s my fave Walter Huston role. I think you and your dad have excellent taste in movies. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. In his biography of John Huston, Jeffrey Meyers writes as follows:

    “The making of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE was closely connected to Huston’s personal relations with the author of the novel that was originally published in German in 1927. B. Traven aroused public interest and enhanced his reputation by creating his own legend and becoming an ostentatious recluse. Born Otto Feige in East Prussia in 1882, he was an actor, reporter and political activist, and took part in the Communist in Munich that was crushed in 1919. Persecuted for his radical beliefs, he escaped to Mexico, adopted the name of Traven and became a citizen of that country in 1951.”

    I hope that clears up some of the mystery surrounding B. Traven. BTW, anyone who would like to see Walter Huston in an equally wonderful (but entirely different) role should watch DODSWORTH (1936), a great film directed by William Wyler.

    Liked by 1 person

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