Arthur Wellin for Luna-Film
directed by Arthur Wellin
starring Emil Mamelok, Herta Heden, Bela Lugosi, Gottfried Kraus, Edward Eyseneck, Margot Sokolowska, Charles Barley, Erna Rehberger, Egon Söhnlein
screenplay by Robert Heymann, based on the Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper
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Somewhere in New York State/New Jersey, the 19750s: Deerslayer (Emil
Mamelok) and his sidekick Harry (Charles Barley) are on their way to meet
Deerslayer's friend Chingachgook (Bela Lugosi), whose fiancee Wah-ta-Wah
(Margot Sokolowska) has been abducted by the Iroquois, and on their way
bump into Tom Hutter (Gottfried Kraus), who for the longest time has been
living a peaceful life with his two daughters Judith (Herta Heden) and
Heddy (Erna Rehberger) in his "castle" in the middle of a big
lake. But now with the Iroquois on warpath, he asks Deerslayer to take the
girl to nearby Fort William - but Fort William falls to the French before
Deerslayer can do so. What's even worse, Harry and Tom are captured by the
Iroquois. Deerslayer meets up with Chingachgook, and with the aid of the
retreating British forces, they manage to save Harry and Tom. Then they
plan to free Wah-ta-Wah, and after much to and fro, Deerslayer is captured
by the Iroquois to be burned at the stake - but ultimately, again the
retreating British forces under Colonel Munro (Egon Söhnlein) and his
second-in-command Worley (Edward Eyseneck) save the day.
note, this review is based on the 1923 condensed version of the films Lederstrumpf, 1. Teil: Der Wildtöter und Chingachgook/The
Deerslayer and Lederstrumpf, 2.Teil: Der
Letzte der Mohikaner/The Last of the Mohicans, which
sheered both movies of half their running time, which might explain some
of the choppiness of this movies storytelling.
That said, this movie has
over the years gained some curiosity value for being a very early German
western (a genre the Germans would only excel in in the 1960s), and for
featuring horror icon Bela Lugosi in an early role as Native American.
Apart from that, there's little of actual interest about it: Sure, the
locations are quite beautiful and fit the material, but all the action is
rather sloppily executed, plot elements seem to spring out of nowhere
without dramatic urgency, and the rather evident racism in this movie is
quite appalling. It's still worth a look for curiosity's sake, just don't
expect a hidden gem.