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Der Schatz im Silbersee

Treasure of Silver Lake
Blago u Srebrnom Jezeru / Le Trésor du Lac d'Argent

West Germany/Yugoslavia/France 1962
produced by
Horst Wendlandt for Rialto Film, Jadran Film, S.N.C.-Film
directed by Harald Reinl
starring Pierre Brice, Lex Barker, Herbert Lom, Götz George, Karin Dor, Ralf Wolter, Mirko Boman, Eddi Arent, Jan Sid, Marianne Hoppe, Jozo Kovacivic, Slobodan Dimitrijevic, Miliroj Stojanovic, Branko Spoljar, Velimir Hitil, Antun Nalis
screenplay by Harald G.Petersson, based on the novel by Karl May, music by Martin Böttcher, cinematography by Ernst W. Kalinke

Winnetou, Rialto's Winnetou, Old Shatterhand

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Fred Engel's (Götz George) father owned half of a map to the legendary treasure of Silver Lake, but while riding on a stagecoach he is killed by Cornel Brinkley (Herbert Lom) and his gang, the tramps, and his part of the map is stolen. Infuriated, Engel swears to track down the killers and bring them to justice ... but in the meantime, German scout Old Shatterhand (Lex Barker) and his friend, the Apache chieftain Winnetou (Pierre Brice) have, after finding traces of the stagecoach robbery, also decided to pick up investigations, and eventually, Engel comes to think Old Shatterhand is his father's killer. It takes Shatterhand's strong fist and a vouch by his friend and sidekick Sam Hawkens (Ralf Wolter) to convince Engel otherwise.

Soon, Shatterhand learns the truth about the treasure of the Silver Lake, and about the other half of the map which is with old man Patterson (Jan Sid) at Mrs Butler's (Marianne Hoppe) farm, which at closer inspection resembles a fortress. Soon enough, Winnetou, Shatterhand, Engel, Sam Hawkens and prairie poet Gunstick Uncle (Mirko Boman) arrive at the farm, shortly before the Tramps put them under siege ... but someone's missing on the farm - Patterson and his daughter Ellen (Karin Dor). Soon the two of them become captives of the Tramps, but Winnetou and Old Shatterhand manage to sneak out of the farm to free them, and while Shatterhand brings them to safety inside the farm, Winnetou rides off to fetch the Osaga Indians.

Things at the farm soon heat up, and before long, the Tramps, robbed of Patterson, attack and even manage to force their way in ... when Winnetou arrives with the Osagas to fight off the Tramps ... but unfortunately, Brinkley and a small group of his men escape, and they just won't give up now ...

At the farm, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand decide to go looking for the treasure, along with Fred Engel, Patterson, his daughter Ellen, Sam Hawkens, Gunstick Uncle and the eccentric British butterfly collector Lord Castlepool (Eddi Arent).

And while Winnetou has decided to spy on the Tramps, the others soon become captives of the Utahs, who think they have massacred their wives and children (which was actually done by the Tramps), only Ellen gets away - and is captured by Brinkley.

Our heroes are only set free again when Old Shatterhand manages to defeat the Utahs' chieftain in a duel, when they learn that Brinkley has Ellen and will only release her in exchange for the map. So they take a gamble, and send Fred Engel over to the Tramps'  camp, with him claiming he ias the only survivor of the Utah attack and has not got the map as such but memorized it - which assures the Tramps will kill neither him nor Ellen before they have actually found the treasure ...

Eventually, the Tramps make it to the Silver Lake before Winnetou and Old Shatterhand and the others, but it is in the actual cave contqaining the treasure that Brinkley and his closest associates get at each other's throats to get the lion's share of the gold they find. Only Brinkley himself survives the fight that ensues, but then - by a devillish mechanism of the treasure cave - is flushed into an underground swamp with all the gold, where he dies tragically ...

For our heroes meanwhile it's an easy feat to defeat the rest of the Tramps, free Engel and Ellen, and ride off to new adventures ...

 


With their Edgar Wallace-series, the Danish-turned-German production outfit Rialto has hit box office gold in the late 1950's, which is why they, in 1962, could afford to take a gamble: produce a Western, based on a book of popular German writer Karl May.

The concept for the film which eventually emerged into Der Schatz im Silbersee sounds quite horrible: Location filming took place at some quite scenic spots in former Yugoslavia - which, while looking great, did not resemble the traditional picture of the Old West too closely -, the central role of Apache cheiftain Winnetou was played by Pierre Brice, a handsome Frenchman who looked nothing like a Native American, while the the only German character in this (German) film about America was played by Lex Barker, the only American actor in this film about America.

As I said, on paper this looks horrible, nevertheless, Der Schatz im Silbersee became the highest grossing film of the year and the most successful German film so far. Rialto soon turned the stories about Winnetou into a film-series, producing 8 more films, with 2 additional ones being produced by Rialto's chief rival CCC-Filmkunst, all starring Pierre Brice and most starring Lex Barker as well.

But was it a good film ?

Surprisingly, yes it was. Der Schatz im Silbersee was not so much a modern or psychological Western, which Hollywood produced at that time, nor was it of course on par with the works of John Ford, Raoul Walsh or Howard Hawks, to name but a few, it is rather reminiscent of Hollywood's B-Westerns where the emphasis is on action and heroes, where a man is still a man and where villains (Herbert Lom is at his most evil here) are clearly distinguishable ... but Der Schatz im Silbersee was made with a higher budget and more care than Hollywood's typical B-product.

The result is a gripping adventure film in Western settings, with a fairy-tale atmosphere thanks to the romantic Yugoslavian landscapes and Martin Böttcher's schmaltzy but catchy music, which gave each character his own theme long before Ennio Morricone did the same in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Of course the film is not free of kitsch, and of characters one could have done without, but ultimately the movie warms one's heart, and it gives the receptive viewer the feeling to be a boy again who at one point in his life loved and acted out these Western fantasies ... if only for the length of this film.

Recommended.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

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produced by and starring
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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

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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