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Durch die Wüste

Germany 1936
produced by
Lothar Stark
directed by J.A. Hübler-Kahla
starring Fred Raupach, Heinz Evelt, Erich Haussmann, Gretl Wawra, Aruth Wartan, Katharina Berger, Herbert Gernot, Franz Klebusch, Bertold Reissig
screenplay by Carl Junghans, based on the novel by Karl May, music by Gottfried Huppertz

Kara Ben Nemsi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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On their trip through the desert, German adventurer Kara Ben Nemsi (Fred Raupach) and his beduine servant Hadschi Halef Omar (Heinz Evelt) find a murdered man. Later, they bump into the caravan of Abu Seif (Erich Haussmann), whom Kara is quick to identify as the killer, but of course, Kara and Halef are outgunned. Abu Seif knows about their suspicions but lets them go, to then shoot their guide on their way through a swamp, expecting them to lose their way and die in the swamp as well ...

The next city: Kara and Halef have made it out of the swamp despite everything, and a hot bath and a good shave alter Kara's appearances so radically he looks like a new man. Kara, who has the reputation (if not the certificates) to be a doctor, is called to the home of a rich merchant to cure his wife. Kara recognizes the merchant to be Abu Seif, but is not recognized back. When he talks to Abu Seif's wife Senitza (Katharina Berger), he learns that she is the daughter of Sheik Malek (Aruth Wartan), leader of a beduine tribe, but was abducted by Abu Seif. Kara promises to free her, and so he does, much to the dismay of Abu Seif ...

Abu Seif desperately wants his revenge on Kara, so he pursues him restlessly, and when they travel on Nile river, Abu Seif's men finally catch up with him, wreck his ship and leaving Kara and Halef no way out but the desert. After a few days in the desert, Kara and Halef are on the verge of drowining because Abu Seif has found a new hobby: To blow up all the local fountains. Ultimately though, they are saved by the woman they once saved, Senitza, who takes them to her tribe.

Senitza's tribe is in trouble, because it's lacking water from the Holy City, and Abu Seif, who has taken control of the city, has forbidden all tribe members to enter - and the only person of Senitza's tribe he doesn't know is Hanneh (Gretl Wawra), her sister - but as a woman she cannot enter the Holy City alone but only with her husband, so she is hastily married off to Halef, who has fallen in love with her at first sight anyways. And off Halef and Hanneh are on their mission, which actually works out fine and without a glitch. However, out of curiosity, Kara has sneaked into the Holy City, which is forbidden to infidels, as well, but is discovered by Abu Seif, who immediately wants him arrested. Kara manages to escape the city though, and when Abu Seif follows in hot pursuit, it is instead him who is captured by Sheik Malek's tribe. When the tribe wants to hold judgement over Abu Seif though, his men attack. They are defeated, but Abu Seif gets away, and now it's Kara who's in hot pursuit.

The whole thing ends in the swamp Abu Seif left Kara to die in, but this time it's Abu Seif who falls right into it and drowns ...

 

Judging from the looks alone, this film is quite spectacular: It was partly filmed in Egypt, which provides for quite some impressive scenery, and director J.A. Hübler Kahla certainly knew how to make the most of the locations at hand. However, on a plotlevel, the film is terribly uneven, mainly due to its episodic nature (something also inherent in the film's source material), its rather naive, simplistic approach to its narrative, and its rather bumpy pacing. That all the beduines and such are played by exclusively German actors doesn't help much either, but this at least has a naive charm of its own.

The film is still well worth a look if you're into vintage adventure yarns or Karl May - just don't expect a masterpiece!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD