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Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand

West Germany/Yugoslavia 1966
produced by
Horst Wendlandt for Rialto Film, Jadran Film
directed by Alfred Vohrer
starring Pierre Brice, Rod Cameron, Marie Versini, Harald Leipnitz, Rik Battaglia, Viktor de Kowa, Todd Armstrong, Nadia Gray, Jörg Marquard, Walter Wilz, Milan Bosiljcic, Mihail Baloh, Ilija Ilvecic, Dusko Antonijevic, Boris Dvornic, Dana Mascarelli, Drago Gal
screenplay by David DeReske, C.B.Taylor, Harald G.Petersson, based on characters by Karl May, music by Peter Thomas

Winnetou, Rialto's Winnetou

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It was just four years ago that the Winnetou series has started with the wonderful Der Schatz im Silbersee, but with this film the series has pretty much hit rock bottom (though Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi/Half Breed, released only a few months before, was even worse). In this one, wrong decisions were made all along the way: For one it was decided to not hire Lex Barker to do one more as Winnetou's white bloodbrother Old Shatterhand, instead, seasoned American B-cowboy Rod Cameron was hired to do the lead - and due to his age (he was 56 when this was filmed) he was in no shape to handle action or come across as the daredevil the script tries to make him. Then Martin Böttcher's romantic tunes were replaced by a more suspenseful score by Peter Thomas, who is by and large the more interesting composer of the two, but his style of music sits ill with the fairy-tale-like Winnetou-mood. Furthermore, for a Western, the film makes remarkably little use of its (very scenic) outdoor locations, instead centers the action in a Mexican village (not necessarily a bad thing, only it doesn't work here).

And Winnetou ?

Ah yeah, he seems to be absent during most of the plot ...

 

The plot:

Winnetou (Pierre Brice) and his sister Nscho-tschi (Marie Versini) are attacked by Silers (Harald Leipnitz) and his outlaws, but are saved by trapper Old Firehand (Rod Cameron) and his friends young Tom (Todd Armstrong) and old Caleb.

After the outlaws are fought off, our heroes decide to report the incident to the Sergeant (Rik Battaglia) in the next town, Miramonte, but the villagers of Miramonte have their problems with Silers and his men all of their own, and what's worse, they have captured Silers' brother Billy Bob (Wlater Wilz), and part of the villagers want to hang him for murder while part want to free him so that Silers won't have his vengeance on them. And when the Sergeant refuses to set Billy Bob free, some villagers free him just like that ... but Billy Bob is shot while escaping. Now the villagers who freed him make their getaway ... but they cross part with Silers and his gang, who cold-bloodedly has them shot and directs their waggon treck back to Miramonte, loaded with dynamite that goes up right at the town's square.

Old Firehand now takes it upon himself to command Miramonte's defense, while at the same time meeting Michèle (Nadia Gray), an old flame from long ago, and finding out he has fathered her a son, Jace (Jörg Marquard) back in the days, who now looks up to Firehand as his idol. Meanwhile, Firehand's friend Tom and Winnetou's sister Nscho-Tschi fall in love, while Winnetou ... well, he doesn't really do much at all.

Twice, Silers' gang attacks Miramonte, twice they are fought back by the valiant villagers, but they suffer severe losses, and with each attack more of Miramonte is blown up.

Then Winnetou has the glorious idea to get help, however, he is not all that successful in putting his plan into operation, because he asks noone but a gang of desperadoes for help, and to noone's real surprise, they decide to side with Silers ...

However, thanks to some fireworks, and thanks to Winnetou who somehow steals the outlaws' dynamite, the villagers can scare away Silers' gang and the desperadoes, then they go to the offensive, kill the outlaws' leaders and throw the rest of them into a conveniently situated pond ...

All's end that ends well. 

Well, only Tom, who had fallen in love with Nscho-Tschi, had to die, because she has to stay innocent for Old Shatterhand in Winnetou I, which, despite having been made 3 years earlier, takes place after the events of this one.

Viktor de Kowa does the (not very comical) comic relief as an eccentric English lord.

 

To noone's real surprise, Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand was the last  the last Winnetou-film Rialto ever produced.

2 years later though, CCC-Filmkunst tried to revive the series with Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der Toten, reusing most of the classic cast and crew (Pierre Brice, Lex Barker, Karin Dor, Ralf Wolter, director Harald Reinl, composer Martin Böttcher), the film however became merely a moderate success, on both an artistic and financial level.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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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