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Winnetou III

Desperado Trail
Vinetu III

West Germany/Yugoslavia 1965
produced by
Horst Wendlandt for Rialto Film, Jadran Film
directed by Harald Reinl
starring Pierre Brice, Lex Barker, Rik Battaglia, Ralf Wolter, Carl Lange, Sophie Hardy, Dusan Antonijevic, Veljko Maricic, Aleksander Gavric, Ilija Ivicevic, Mihail Baloh, Slobodan Dimitrijevic
screenplay by Harald G.Petersson, J.Joachim Bartsch, 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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At the beginning of this film, the white and the red man live at peace side by side. but still, there are respectable businessmen like Vermeulen (Veljko Maricic) around who want to get their hands on Indian territory at whatever cost. In fact, Vermeulen even tries to entice a war between his friends, the Jicarillas, and the Mescaleros, the tribe of noble chief Winnetou (Pierre Brice), with the aim of having the army intervene and defeat both tribes, withthe result that he, Vermeulen, can sell the Indian land to the neverending stream of settlers.

But to get Winnetou onto the warpath proves to be harder than expected, since he not only is so peace-loving that one cannot provoke him, he and his bloodbrother Old Shatterhand (Lex Barker) also investigate in Vermeulen's dirty deals - and get so close to the truth that Vermeulen has to call upon his right hand man Rollins (Rik Battaglia) and his gang to take care of Winnetou.

Rollins and company set a few traps for the Mescalero chief, but to little avail, but then Rollins gets his hands on Winnetou's knife ... and plants it right in the chest of Quick Panther (Slobodan Dimitrijevic) , the son of White Buffalo (Dusan Antonijevic), chief of the Jicarillas, then brings the boy's body to the Jicarillas' camp and blames Winnetou, who together with Old Shatterhand just happens to be a guest of the Jicarillas, for the murder. And soon enough, the bloodbrothers find themselves tied to the Jicarillas' stakes, and it would have been their end too, wouldn't scout Sam Hawkens (Ralf Wolter) happen to stop by with a case of fireworks, which he uses to scare the heebiejeebies out of the Jicarillas and in the process free Winnetou and Old Shatterhand ...

Soon enough, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand have Vermeulen arrested by the gouvernor of New Mexico (Carl Lange), but by now the Jicarillas are on the warpath against the Mescaleros, joined by Rollins and his gang, and all Winnetou can do is to order his tribe to leave theri camp and retreat ever farther while waiting for the soldiers the gouvernour has promised to arrive. Meanwhile, Old Shatterhand and Sam Hawkens have set out to set some traps to slow down the progress of the Mescaleros' adversaries ...

Eventually the Mescaleros have found their last retreat up in the mountains, and it all culminates in a big shoot-out ... with the army arriving just in time to save the Mescaleros from extinction. But Winnetou catches a bullet fired by Rollins, to save the life of Old Shatterhand. The Mescaleros thereafter lynch Rollins, but it's too late to save Winnetou's life. The tribe is saved, but at what price ?

 

The ending of this film is a  tearjerker if there ever was one, I remember crying when I was a ltitle boy, and even nowadays, the ending drives tears into my eyes. 

As a whole, the film is pretty much a continuation of Der Schatz im Silbersee and Winnetou I and II, with, surprisingly enough, no drop in quality. The plot is again simplistic and totally sympathetic with the Native Americans' cause, while the direction sheds an almost fairy tale-like light on the Western genre, of course greatly helped by the romantic music and scenery. The film is just beautiful, and the last highlight of the Winnetou series. Actually the series should have stopped with this one (since Winnetou has died anyways), but production company Rialto tried to (unsuccessfully) continue the success of the series with 3 more films, Old Surehand/Flaming Frontier (1965), Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi/Half Breed and Winnetou, Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand (both 1966), with Rialto's chief competitor CCC-Filmkunst trying to revive the series in 1968 with Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten/In the Valley of the Death, but also with limited success.

None of these films were really good, Winnetou III however was, and it's highly recommendable to everyone who likes old-fashioned and simplistic but extremely well made Westerns.

 

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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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD