Research conducted by Reiner Boller, Germany - for the new,
English edition of the great Lex Barker biography, anticipated 2013 - unearthed
film reviews from the 1960s for what has become the most successful
film series in the history of German cinema: the Karl May movies. As far as
film critiques go, they could now be regarded as historical; the movies
themselves have attained cult status, and are being restored and re-issued. December 2012 marks the fifty year anniversay for the premiere of the debut film The Treasure Of Silver Lake.
A few years after their screening in Europe, the movies were also released in the USA (among other countries). Below are some of the most pertinent quotes from the uncovered movie reviews that were published at the time, including the movies with Lex Barker, Stewart Granger, and Rod Cameron in the roles of Old Shatterhand / Kara Ben Nemsi, Old Surehand, and Old Firehand, respectively.
My thanks go to Reiner Boller and his esteemend connections in Hollywood. More excerpts of the reviews are featured on the website dedicated to Lex Barker (English) (German), who played Old Shatterhand and Kara Ben Nemsi in the Karl May movies.
Note: As of the dates of the reviews, the region where the movies were shot was still part of the former Yugoslavia, or what is now Croatia; the references of the time to Yugoslavia have been maintained. Obvious spelling mistakes have been corrected.
The Treasure Of Silver Lake (Columbia release 1965)
January 23, 1963:
"Silver Lake", produced by Berlin's Rialto-Film in collaboration with Jadran-Film, Yugoslavia's top producing outfit, commands attention for three reasons. It is the first big-scale CinemaScope German Western. It is the most expensive (about $875,000) film made by a Teutonic company in 1962. It is, within its special scope, a remarkably well made film. This contains the ingredients for a stout moneymaker within and outside its home grounds. There's a strong demand for such big-screen outdoor pictures and this one qualifies especially for patrons between 12 and 25.
Like the big U.S. Westerns, this German-Yugoslav venture benefits from the great outdoors. The picturesque Karst region of the Titoland where the film was shot is hardly less impressive than the Arkansas region where the action occurs. The Eastmancolor photography enhances this production. The competent musical score adds to the mood. And there are the usual lovable and malicious western characters.
Dr. Harald Reinl deserves credit for expert handling of the Karl May filmization. He has directed a film that has many assets. Taking into consideration that this is Germany's first big-scale Western drama, he did a highly praiseworthy job. There's good reason to believe that "Silver Lake" will become one of Germany's most substantial postwar boxoffice contenders.
August 26, 1965:
European producers now are getting into the act of turning out Westerns for the American market. "The Treasure of Silver Lake", produced for Columbia in West Germany by Horst Wendlandt, carries plenty of oater action, what with stagecoach killings, search for a hidden treasure and Indians on the warpath, but sometimes it is a bit too refined. Most of the principals speak as though they've just graduated with a master's degree. Indian tribes, too, are scattered a little far afield from their hunting grounds, which probably will be picked up by youthful audiences here. All in all, however, the film, well photographed in CinemaScope and EastmanColor, is an okay entry for the Western trade.
Technical credits are headed by Ernest W. Kalinke's expert color camera work.
Reviewed at Columbia Studios, Aug. 24, 1965.
August 26, 1965 (James Powers)
'Silver Lake' Okay Foreign Western:
"The Treasure of Silver Lake" is a Western shot in Yugoslavia with an American, British and European cast from a classic Western by a German author. The new rule seems to be: a rock is a rock, a creek is a crick-shoot it in Dubrovnik. The Columbia release of the Rialto Preben Philipsen-Jadran production won't set any box-office records, but it will do nicely in markets geared to the Western action film. Harald Reinl directed for producer Horst Wendlandt.
"The Treasure of Silver Lake" is from a book by Karl May, the German writer who achieved a vast success in German-speaking Europe with his stories of the American West, which he never saw. He was the combined Zane Grey-Edgar Rice Burroughs of middle Europe. "Silver Lake" is often naive in its treatment of the Wild West, but it has considerable charm.
The Film Daily
August 27, 1965 (Mandel Herstman):
Outdoor action drama. International cast. Conventionally made.
A German production, "The Treasure of Silver Lake" is an outdoor action drama shot in Yugoslavia and set in the American frontier west. The cast, grasped from many lands, is headed by Lex Barker, Herbert Lom, Goetz George and Pierre Brice. The story has its interesting elements dealing with the lust for a hidden trasure of gold. The action, gunplay and excitement generated will please the average fan. The observant patron will find scatterings of cliches. Horst Wendlandt produced in CinemaScope and Eastman Color by Pathe.
The screenplay by H. G. Peterson, based on the novel by Karl May, deals with a vicious band of outlaws who attack, plunder and murder. [...]
The direction of Harald Reinl is conventional. Photography by Ernest W. Kalinke catches some breathtaking landscape scenes.
September 13, 1965:
The first German-made horse opera to reach U.S. screens, this lavish Horst Wendlandt production, in CinemaScope and Eastman Color, offers abundant action and spectacle but minimal drama. [...] Performances are generally good, English language dubbing is adequate and director Harald Reinl keeps proceedings moving at a rapid clip. Production values, barring some distinctly European scenery, are excellent and the color processing is unusually fine.
Motion Picture Herald
September 15, 1965 (Sy Oshinsky):
For those who still prefer a Western with a flawless hero, incurable villians, brave Indian warriors and a fair frontier maiden in distress, there is "Treasure of Silver Lake" to recommend. Stripped of psychological nuances and other frills that have been added over the years to make the Western more "adult", this film presents a hard West, with bullets and arrows constantly flying in all directions.
Lex Barker plays the major role as the frontiersman who, with his faithful Indian companion, Pierre Brice, seeks to protect young Goetz George from the hard-as-nails killer Herbert Lom. It seems George has one-half of a map pointing to a hidden treasure of gold, and Lom has stolen the other half. Lom will stop at nothing to get the other half and has recruited a large army of bandits to aid in his adventure.
"Treasure of Silver Lake" was directed by Harald Reinl and produced by Horst Wendlandt. The screenplay was written by H.G. Peterson.
Seen at the screening in New York Reviewer's Rating: Fair
Release date, August, 1965. Running time, 82 minutes
Monthly Film Bulletin
When a stagecoach is ambushed by bandits who murder a passenger and steal an old map, Old Shatterhand and his Indian companion, Winnetou, undertake to track down the gang. Fred Engel, son of the murdered man, vows to avenge his father's death, and reveals that the map shows the location of a hoard of treasure hidden at Silver Lake. [...]
A breezy Continental Western in which it is splendid to find that, for once, it is not the U.S. Cavalry but a tribe of Indians who come riding to the last-minute rescue. The locations are attractive and the film is certainly pleasant to watch, but it has been cut so savagely that the story line does little more than jerk along.
Apache Gold [Winnetou I] (Columbia release 1965)
December 12, 1963:
To begin with, there's something quite amusing about Karl May's "Winnetou". As "the big chieftain of the Apaches", he has become an immortal figure with millions of Germans who read Karl May's adventure literature. But in the country where he "lived", in the good old U.S., Winnetou is unknown. Be that as it may, stateside patrons can be assured that Winnetou was and is (on the screen) a very noble, a very handsome and a very likeable Indian chief.
[...] Rialto's first big screen, big-scale Western, "Treasure of Silver Lake", became the German surprise hit of 1963. It has made a lot of coin. "Winnetou" looks to become an even bigger hit. It deserves it because it is better than "Silver Lake" in nearly every respect. What seemed unbelievable a couple a years back has become reality: That Germans can make Westerns that are able to compete with bulk of the Hollywood average Westerns.
The players obviously had much fun in Yugoslavia where the film was shot. More or less everyone comes along with a refreshing performance: Lex Barker, the most prominent American in German pictures today, is right at home with his Shatterhand role. He's tall, blond, heroic, very much masculine and likeable. No doubt, this picture will bring him even more friends in Germany. Pierre Brice, a French actor, enacts Winnetou in an effective manner. Brice, a special favorite with the Teutonic bobbysox set, should climb the ladder of popularity after this.
The great outdoors are often breathtakingly beautiful, with the Eastmancolor lensing very very good. A special word of praise must go to Martin Boettcher for his splendid musical score. Background music should go well on records and radio.
August 31, 1965:
"Apache Gold", another pic of U.S. West made in Europe, effectively combines staple cliches of low-budget Westerns into gaudy package that should do well in oater fields. Director Harald Reinl keeps action moving at breakneck pace, and shoot-out sequences should satisfy action devotees. With U.S. thesp Lex Barker in lead and Europeans in remainder of cast, pic has built-in appeal to many markets.
"Gold" of title refers to secret mine protected by Indians and final showdown comes in craggy mountains feelingly captured by Ernest W. Kalinke's CinemaScope and color photography. In fact, all Yugoslav terrain on which pic was shot was well-chosen despite the waterfall. Art director Vladimir Tadej turned out authentic sets which seem to indicate careful study of old photos of railroad-building era.
Columbia is releasing pic, which is coproduction of Rialto Film and Preben Philipsen.
Reviewed at Columbia Studios, Aug. 26, 1965
The Hollywood Reporter
August 31, 1965 (James Powers)
Apache Gold O.K. German Western:
"Apache Gold" is the second Columbia release to be shown for preview dealing with the same characters, drawn from the German writer of American Westerns, Karl May. "Apache Gold" should be released first, since it introduces the characters seen in the other film, "The Treasure of Silver Lake". Both pictures were made in Yugoslavia by predominantly German production crews. "Apache Gold" is a good Western for fans of the type. Harald Reinl directed for producer Horst Wendlandt.
[...] "Apache Gold" is based on a book, "Winnetou", by May. The book title refers to one of the principal characters, the son of an Apache chief who takes over when his father dies and becomes Shatterhand's chief ally.
There is some good action footage. Particularly effective is the camera work on the big battle scenes, tracking shots that would be a credit to experienced American cameramen. Ernst Kalinke did the CinemaScope photography, which is in color. [...]
The Film Daily
September 9, 1965 (Mandel Herbstman):
Outdoor action drama with standard elements. Fine scenic footage.
The white man is portrayed as good and bad in his dealings with the Indian in "Apache Gold", a tale of the frontier West in Eastman Color by Pathe. The ingredients are the familar ones. The action is good, the plot simple. Scenic outdoor shots in Eastman Color by Pathe are quite striking. Fans should receive the film favorably.
In the course of the story Barker finds himself misunderstood by the Apaches who capture him and plan a quick, painful end for him. Barker manages to get out of that predicament and even fall in love with an Indian maiden, Marie Versini.
Motion Picture Herald
September 15, 1965 (Sy Oshinsky):
Western buffs will like the ruggedness of the characters and the background caught in color by the cameras in "Apache Gold".
Although produced by European filmmakers, and shot in Yugoslavia, "Apache Gold" manages to convey the spirit of the Old West quite effectively. Dubbed in English, the film has a conventional story about white men breaking treaties with Indians and trying to steal their gold. But the film is enlivened by solid action and some beautiful scenic shots.
The photography by Ernest W. Kalinke is good in all aspects, whether in moving fast with a convoy of covered wagon fleeing attacking Apaches, or slowly sweeping across a panorama of grassy plains and towering mountains. Able direction is provided by Harald Reinl, who keeps everything on an exciting level.
The screenplays by H. G. Peterson was based on the novel "Winnetou" by Karl May. The producer was Horst Wendlandt. The film is a co-production of Rialto Film Preben Philipsen and Jadran Film.
Seen at the screening in New York. Reviewer's Rating: Fair
September 13, 1965:
This German-made variation on the American horse opera has enjoyed phenomenal popularity in Europe where it was known as "Winnetou". Success is sure to be duplicated here with family audiences and action fans of all ages for the breathtakingly beautiful Eastman Color and CinemaScope production is unusually lavish and the fast-moving story is rich in audience-pleasing elements of action, adventure and romance. Also, performances by star Lex Barker, a former Tarzan, and the European supporting players are uniformly excellent, with dubbing so fine that few viewers will be aware of the film's foreign origin. [...] This Horst Wendlandt production, well directed by Harald Reinl, was actually the first in a continuing series and tells how white idealist Barker and Apache prince Pierre Brice surmount hatred and become united as "blood brothers". Marie Versini provides poignant romantic interest and Mario Adorf is the principal villain.
Winnetou The Warrior (British title for Winnetou I)
Films and Filming
April 1965 (Great Britain) by Allen Eyles:
It's taken the Germans to really bring back the straight Western, unstunted by low budgets, the emphasis firmly on action and not on psychological overtones. There are no half-measures about this lavish production and no half-heartedness about my enthusiasm. It did seem the wagons were fleeing a mite slower than usual from the Indians and the whole chase was a little protracted; but thereafter I shed years as I lapped it all up with a rejuvenating relish. [...]
Climax follows climax as different themes come to a head. Principally, we've got a railroad-building epic, a couple of Indian tribes at loggerheads with one another, and a secret gold mine up in them thar hills. [...]
Winnetou the Warrior has obviously been made by people who appreciate the Western, and the effortless look of it must in fact disguise considerable sweat and care. Alert direction is at pains to set everything forth very clearly, and pans frequently relate different groups of people to show it's all been staged as you see it and not put together at different times and places. More than just exciting one, the film revives the legendary West in its magnificent natural settings (presumably Yugoslavia) and sets that look exactly right though slightly and refreshingly different from the Hollywood norm. There is respect, too, for traditional values: the corpse of an old warrior reverently raised onto the funeral platform, bodies reclaimed during the night lull in a gunbattle, the final ride into the sunset. The actors look right, especially Pierre Brice who could be Rock Hudson in his Taza, Son of Cochise days, and a grizzled, humorous old-timer who epitomises them all. Dubbing is generally first-rate and the music an expert match for the genre as well as an effective tension builder when it brings in a simple rhythmic beat.
No carping - this was sheer pleasure from beginning to end, and anyone who has ever enjoyed a Western ought to head for it pronto. [...]
Monthly Film Bulletin
Backed by a group of bandits and the Kiowa Indians, Santer, a desperado, breaks an agreement with the Apaches and runs a new railroad straight through Indian territory. Led by Winnetou, the son of the chief, the Apaches go on the warpath. When Winnetou is captured by the Kiowas, he is rescued by Old Shatterhand, an Inspector for the Great Western Railroad, but the former rides away before recognising him. Shatterhand manages to kill or capture most of Santer's men in a gun battle but Santer escapes when the Apaches attack again. The wounded Shatterhand is taken as prisoner to Winnetou's camp where he is nursed by the latter's sister, Nscho-tschi. [...]
This is the first of the recent crop of German Westerns to be seen over here, and it is surprisingly enjoyable. Like the Japanese, the Germans have a fondness for copying familiar models and the film's makers have certainly made a methodical study of the American cinema, even utilising a few Delmer Daves-like crane shots. Winnetou is simply jam-packed with incident, including an Indian pursuit of a wagon train (rather spoilt by over-leisurely cutting), several convincing gun battles, a demolition of a saloon by a runaway train and an excellently staged canoe race. [...]
Old Shatterhand (Don Kay Associates release 1967)
January 22, 1964:
For the record, this is Artur Brauner's first big-scale Western. The Berlin CCC topper thus cashes in on the amazing domestic Karl May ("the German Zane Grey") trend launched by another Berlin producer, Horst Wendlandt, two years ago.
"Old Shatterhand" may be called a Karl May Western although it isn't a Karl May filmization. The exclusive filmization rights of the late author's Western novels have been acquired by Wendlandt. But the popular Karl May characters (public domain) such as Old Shatterhand, Winnetou and Sam Hawkens are there. Ladislao Fodor, Hungarian-born American living in Switzerland, and Robert A. Stemmle, a German writer, dreamed up a new plot which follows about what Karl May had to say in his novels.
Supervised by Brauner, this is truly an international vehicle. Headed by Americans Lex Barker and Guy Madison, Frenchman Pierre Brice and Israeli beauty Daliah Lavi, the cast is composed of American, French, Italian, Yugoslav and German players. Similar variety of nationalities applies to the staff of this venture. And an American, Hugo Fregonese, directed.
It's first time that the 70m Superpanorama was used in a Karl May vehicle. There are impressive shots of the beautiful Yugoslav country which provided the "American background" for this European Western.
Apaches Last Battle (British title for Old Shatterhand)
Films and Filming
April 1966 (Great Britain) by Allen Eyles:
This is not a patch on Winnetou the Warrior. Unlike Harald Reinl, who directed the earlier picture, Hugo Fregonese has tucked several real Westerns under his belt (Saddle Tramp, Untamed Frontier, and the striking Apache Drums), but his handling is now jaded, quite lacking the flair and enthusiasm that Reinl, an appreciative outsider, brought to his imitation of the genre. Fregonese's staging is fairly sharp in places but all the action scenes are slack and unexciting which means that the film fails the real test (loose editing throughout is no help at all). [...] Occasional details that don't quite fit the tradional Western image like the shape of a hat or a stiff New York newspaper in fact give a more interesting and authentic look to the picture. Unfortunately, this time there is only the look, not a splendidly rousing action piece to go with it.
The Yellow Devil [The Shoot]
November 4, 1964:
Another large-scale German-Yugoslav Karl May filmization, again with Lex Barker as the Teutonic hero, this one has an Oriental background. There is no denying that Hollywood is doing such adventurous things much better. Yet there seems little doubt but that this one will collect a lot of coin in this country. Karl May, still much in vogue around here, is a powerful box office guarantee.
Robert Siodmak, the German American who returned from Hollywood several years ago, directed "Der Schut" with a twinkle in his eyes. Wisely enough, the adventurous plot is not taken too seriously. And there is a substantial portion of comedy relief to balance with the suspense.
The simple yarn centers on Kara Ben Nemsi (Lex Barker), the tall and blond German adventurer, who's trying to track down "Der Schut", a villain in the disguise of a wealthy carpet dealer, who's been terrorizing the people of Monte Negro for quite some time. Of course, justice is meted out after the familiar complications, chases, fisticuffs and gunfights. Lineup of victims, unfortunately, includes the hero's wonder horse, Rih, who is to German Karl May fans nearly as popular as the author's star characters.
"Der Schut", incidentally, may be translated here into "Yellow Devil".
The beautiful Yugoslav rocky mountains supply the background for this adventure pic, certainly as asset. Martin Boettcher wrote the occasionally full-sounding score, another plus.
Last Of The Renegades [Winnetou II] (Columbia release 1967)
April 11, 1964:
Horst Wendlandt has done it again: Another big-scale Teutonic "Western" made in Yugoslavia with an international cast headed by Lex Barker, Pierre Brice and (new to the German screen) Anthony Steel. It's the Berlin Rialto topper's third big filmization which he personally supervised. Since the "German Zane Grey" (Karl May) is still popular in German market, it looks as though this sequel to "Winnetou", budgeted at 4,000,000 D-Marks ($ 1,000,000) will collect a lot of coin in this country. Taking into account that "family type of features" are scarce everywhere, it can be granted certain foreign possibilities.
If compared with "Treasure of Silver Lake" and "Winnetou, Part I", they counted more shooting and more dead bodies. But on the other hand, the love interest is more substantial in present release.
Beautiful Yugoslav mountains substitute for the American western territory. Martin Boettcher has provided an appealing score. Quite good camerawork. Meanwhile, Horst Wendlandt is already shooting another ("Among Vultures") Karl May Western, starring Stewart Granger as Old Surehand, another May character.
Monthly Film Bulletin
With white settlers invading his hunting grounds, the chief of the Assiniboin tribe declares war on all intruders. Apache chief Winnetou saves the chief's daughter Ribanna from a grizzly bear, and then intercedes on behalf of three captured troopers, one of whom is Lt. Merril, son of fort commander Colonel J. F. Merril. When renegades led by Luke attack a Ponca settlement, Merril and his companions arrive too late to prevent a massacre and are only rescued from Luke's men by the timely arrival of Old Shatterhand, blood brother of Winnetou. [...] The Yugoslav locations are as imposing as ever; Anthony Steel and Klaus Kinski make a capital pair of villians; and only the semi-comic character of Lord Castlepool fails to come off. Winnetou owes his resurrection, incidentally, to the fact that this is an earlier film in the series than the one released in this country as The Desperado Trail.
Winnetou III (Columbia release 1967, US title The Desperado Trail)
January 19, 1966:
"Winnetou, Part III" puts an end to Winnetou; that handsome, mild talking chieftain of the Apaches gets shot in the 83rd minute of this Rialto production. Remainder of the film is a tear-jerker for the many Winnetou fans. And never has one seen Old Shatterhand alias Lex Barker, Winnetou's lifelong friend, looking so serious on the screen.
There seems little doubt that this German-Yugoslav Karl May Western will spell a lot of coin throughout the country. Also this one will sled into many foreign markets. Horst Wendlandt, the initiator and general superivsor of these Teutonic horse operas, has never had any complaints about their foreign sales.
Director Harald Reinl has found an appealing mixture of brutality, humor and sentiment which pleases large segments of the not too demanding Continental film patrons. He takes care that the whole thing remains very much on the romantic side. The beautiful Yugoslav landscapes help him. Ernst W. Kalinke's camerawork is very good.
One may wonder if Winnetou is dead for the German screen. However, Karl May, even after the chieftain's death, wrote more novels dealing with the Apache chieftain's previous adventures. Hence, more Winnetou pictures likely will be forthcoming.
Monthly Film Bulletin
The third in the cycle of films based on the characters created by Karl May turns out to be no better or worse than its predecessors. Simplicity is the keynote, characterisation is elementary (Winnetou and his blood brother are as noble as ever, and the villians are blacker than black), and the dubbed dialogue is of the "Welcome, my brother" variety. Direction and photography are up to standard, but the locations are perhaps a little less imposing than in the earlier episodes. Addicts will be relieved to hear that Winnetou's death in the last reel is not really the end of the series.
Among Vultures, Germany 1964, US title Frontier Hellcat)
Monthly Film Bulletin
The narrative line of this European Western (featuring the characters created by Karl May) follows a tortuous path of ins-and-outs before the finale disposes of the gang which committed the crime that opens the story. The script labours under a series of coincidences, with old acquaintances popping up in the wide open spaces. Least likely of all is Elke Sommer as a girl carrying a fortune in a money belt across the prairie. Stewart Granger is agreeable as Old Surehand, and Pierre Brice repeats his familiar Winnetou characterisation. And like its predessors in this series, the considerable location work makes the film attractive to look at.
January 13, 1965:
The amazing German Karl May trend continues. "Among Vultures" is the fourth big-screen May filmization which the Berlin Rialto topper, Horst Wendlandt, the initiator of this trend, personally supervised. It is the first Karl May Western to star Stewart Granger as Old Surehand, another popular May character. This Teutonic horse opera looks like a stout domestic box office contender. Also this type of film will sled into foreign markets, the more because it is a production of truly international calibre. Made by the Berlin-based Rialto in collaboration with French, Italian (Atlantis Film, Rome) and Yugoslav partners. It employs Frenchman Pierre Brice, American Walter Barnes, Italian Renato Baldini, Germans Elke Sommer, Goetz George, and numerous Yugoslav players. The colourful cast is headed by a former Hollywood star of British descent, Granger.
Wisely enough, Alfred Vohrer has directed this with a twinkle in his eye. He doesn't take the bloody action too seriously. Fun is always cropping up. Incidentally, this is Vohrer's first Western. After a series of moneymaking crime thrillers (Edgar Wallace filmizations), he now shows that he's also quite at home in the Western camp.
Granger contributes a colourful portrayal of Old Surehand. It won't make the critics rave but one can imagine youngsters will take a fancy to this well-built crack shot, and his mannerisms. With his nonchallance eventually paired with tongeincheek, his impressive white hair and beautiful teeth, he makes a hero the femmes will go for. Pierre Brice is again cast as Winnetou, already a legandary figure with German filmgoers. [...] Once more the Yugoslav landscapes prove good substitute for the American territory.
The Oil Prince (American release: Rampage at Apache Wells)
November 16, 1965:
There is, commercially speaking, nothing wrong with producer Horst Wendlandt's Karl May filmizations. The Berlin Rialto topper, who launched the Teutonic Karl May wave, collected another Golden Screen, a trophy given to films that draw more than 3,000,000 patrons in Germany within one year. This one was for "Among Vultures". Before that, he was handed the award for three other Karl May Westerns.
There is hardly any doubt that this one will spell money in this country and, as with "Vultures", the first Stewart Granger starrer, the Granger name will open a good number of foreign doors, too.
As usual with Wendlandt's Westerns, "Prince" offers an appealing mixture of colorful characters, beautiful landscapes, action plus comedy relief.
New to Karl May Westerns are Harald Leipnitz and Heinz Erhardt. Leipnitz makes a competent villain, while Erhardt supplies the laughs.
Old Surehand I (Germany, 1965, American title Flaming Frontier)
Monthly Film Bulletin
Old Surehand rides again, and as before the trail is riddled with coincidences and luck which runs consistently in his favour. But like most of the Karl May Westerns, this one has the considerable advantage of stunningly photographed Yugoslav locations (not quite Arizona, but no matter), and the colour is exceptionally good. The narrative is a little circuitous, and Winnetou's unfailing knack of appearing on the horizon whenever things look bad for his friend is rather disconcerting. But the whole thing is amiably done, and Stewart Granger again plays with more than a hint of self-parody. The dubbed dialogye is risible ("I'll ride like the devil", says Surehand's eager young friend, only to stop dead in his tracks when it dawns on him that he has no horse) but quite in keeping with the spirit of the film.
February 14, 1968:
List of 'Westerns' turned out abroad for the American market is further swelled by this German-Yugoslavian import which stars Stewart Granger as a Deadeye Dick-type of frontiersman who prevents a war between the settlers and the Comanches. Film is surfeited with oater values, most of them of fond recollection, and for the minor Old West market should be an okay entry.
'Winnetou and his Friend Old Firehand' (Germany 1966, American title Winnetou: Thunder at the Border)
April 5, 1967:
Whatever the critics may say about Horst Wendlandt's Karl May Westerns (the local Rialto topper supervises these pictures personally), they have at least to admit that they are made with remarkable care, at least as contrasted with the horse operas turned out by other domestic producers. Also this one has been shot in Yugoslavia and benefits from fine, and sometimes interesting outdoor lensing. And once again an Amerian name heads the cast. Rod Cameron (his first Wendlandt Western) this time. This Western should still be able to chalk up at least satisfactory returns around here.
As usual with these Teutonic outdoor epics, the cast is international. In addition to American Cameron, who turns in a sympathetic performance, there are the French Pierre Brice and Marie Versini, and the Germans Harald Leipnitz and Victor de Kowa among the leading players. Remainder of the cast is composed of Italian, Yugoslav and French players. The inevitable 'comedy relief' comes from Victor the Kowa who enacts an Englishman siding with the good forces. He tries hard to be funny. Alfred Vohrer, one of Germany's busiest directors, shows again that he has picked up a good deal of Western knowledge from his stateside colleagues. Technical credits are fully competent.