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Der Schatz der Azteken

The Treasure of the Aztecs
Les Mercenaires du Rio Grance / I Violenti di Rio Bravo

West Germany/Yugoslavia/France/Italy 1965
produced by
Artur Brauner, Götz Dieter Wulf for CCC-Filmkunst, Avala Film, Serena-Film, Franco-London-Film
directed by Robert Siodmak
starring Lex Barker, Gérard Barray, Rik Battgaglia, Ralf Wolter, Michèle Girardon, Alessandra Panaro, Theresa Lorca, Fausto Tozzi, Hans Nielsen, Gustavo Rojo, Kelo Henderson, Jean-Roger Caussimon, Friedrich von Ledebur, Jeff Corey, Antun Nalis, Djordje Nenadovic, Jovan Nikolic, Milivoje Popovic-Mavic, Branimir Tori Jankovic, Fulvija Irvermizzi, Eva Ras, Rolf Rolphs, Reginald Pasch, Nada Radovic, Petar Buntic, Dragoslav Dzadzevic, Jovan Rancic, Willy Egger, Mate Ivankovic, Branko Krsmanovic
screenplay by Ladislas Fodor, Robert A.Stemmle, Georg Marischka, based on the novel Schloss Rodrigando by Karl May, music by Erwin Halletz

Karl Sternau, Karl May at CCC-Filmkunst

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The German doctor and diplomat Karl Sternau (Lex Barker) is - with the blessing of Abraham Lincoln (Jeff Corey) - supporting rebel leader Benito Alvarez (Fausto Tozzi) in fighting Mexico's FRench oppressors and its Austrian Emperor Maximilian. However, Juarez is short on money, and Lincoln, having a civil war on his hands, can't help on that account ... but Sternau has contacts to Don Fernando (Friedrich von Ledebur), an immensely rich nobleman who secretly supports the revolution and whose hacienda is populated mainly by Aztecs, who are in the frontline of the revolution, including Aztec princess Karja (Theresa Lorca), one of the very few people who know where the treasure of the Aztecs is hidden ...

Things turn bad though when a) Benito Juarez fires Capitano Verdoja (Rik Battaglia), who has used the revolution merely for his own gain and who soon enough forms a violent gang of outlaws, and b) when Don Fernando's no-good son Don Alfonso (Gérard Barray) loses a great sum at the gambling table, and his girlfriend Josefa (Michèle Girardon) finds a way to use it to their advantage and have Don Fernando killed in a duel. However, before his death, Don Fernando has just enough time to disown his son and make Sternau his executor - which makes Don Alfonso turn both against the revolution and against Karl Sternau. What makes the situation even more peculiar though is that Don Alfonso has sweettalked Princess Karja and tries to get from her the secret of the Aztec treasure ...

It all ends in a massive shoot-out during which Karl Sternau is seriously wounded - but Princess Karja finds him, and since he has once saved her life, she brings him to safety - right to the cave where the Aztec treasure is hidden ...

To be continued in the film Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes ...

Ralf Wolter provides the comedy relief.

 

In the 1960's, when production company Rialto struck gold with the Winnetou-films, a series based on Western novels by German author Karl May, rival CCC-Filmkunst desperately tried to jump the bandwagon, first with a Winnetou film of their own (Old Shatterhand), then with a series of films based on Karl May's Orient-adventures with hero Kara Ben Nemsi and finally with the two Karl Sternau films, Westerns written by May set during the Mexican revolution - and like in most of Rialto's Winnetou-films, Lex Barker played the lead in all of CCC-Filmkunst's Karl May adaptations ...

As a film, Der Schatz der Azteken is so-so at best, it features an over-convoluted with way too many narrative threads to tie up in even two movies, at the same time a bunch of overly-clichéd plot devices, a lack of stringent storytelling and almot no real tension. And the cliffhanger this film ends on is a bit of a disappointment. Still, the film is not all bad, it's closely related to naive movie-serials from about 30 years earlier (and not only because of the cliffhanger ending), the direction from Hollywood veteran Robert Siodmak is competent (even if it's a far cry from his best films) and most of the action is quite ok.

So as long as you are looking for nothing more than a naive, old-fashioned B-adventure, you might like this ... jut don't expect anything more.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
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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