Among Vultures / Frontier Hellcat / Unter Geiern (Alfred Vohrer, 1964)

Here is a recent review from my project: 100 SELECT EUROWESTERNS: www.cinemadrome.yuku.com

Director: Alfred Vohrer

The Bauman ranch is attacked and the women folk are murdered. Returning from bear hunting Mr. Bauman (Walter Barnes) arrives on the scene and is stricken by what appears to be the work of the local Shoshone tribe. But Chief Winnetou (Pierre Brice) thinks otherwise as does his old friend and hunting partner, "Surehand "(Stewart Granger).

Granger looks the part but his white hat and fringed jacket appear spotless and to have come directly from mailorder, clean and pressed. They never get dirty, nor does he. Granger sounds dubbed and it takes a lot away from his usually more personable style. The villains are led by S. Rupp, one of the leading Mexican bad guys in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, a much grittier and more important Eurowestern made the same year. Elke Sommer is also distractingly clean and neat, but pleasant to look at. Walter Barnes is the only performer who looks like he belongs in the blasted landscape (Interiors: CCC-Atelier, Spandau, Berlin, Germany Grobnicko polje; Croatia-Krka Falls, Krka National Park, Croatia Paklenica Canyon, Paklenica National Park, Croatia Perucko reservoir, Yugoslavia Platak, Yugoslavia Tolove Grede mountain, Yugoslavia Vrlika, Yugoslavia ).

And look closely for Mario Girotti (aka Terence Hill) in the supporting cast.

Alfred Vorher’s direction is competent, yet distanced from the center of the action and he appears to favor standoffish, geometrical compositions. He was more at home directing Krimi’s ( THE COLLEGE GIRL MURDERS; THE HAND OF POWER).

As a surprise, the Native Americans ride in to rescue the wagon train at the end instead of the US Cavalry. This is the only Winnetou Western I have seen, as the English dubbed FRONTIER HELLCAT. I’ve never had the desire to read the Karl May novels. I have seen Robert Siodmak’s two part adaptation PYRAMID OF THE SUNGODS - AZTEC TEMPLE, like those films, UNTER GEIERN is a sometimes picturesque but curiously “wooden” looking and playing western.

German westerns are unique and not for everyone’s taste and certainly very unlike in mood and style the Italian westerns of the same era.

If you do have to see this, watch it in 2.35:1 or not at all.

© Robert Monell, 2008
Unter Geiern (1964)

great. i remember this from when i was a kid, germans grow up with these karl may films and of course i read the novel when i was a kid

A short review has been added to the database:

For anyone in the US looking to catch up with this, Turner Classic Movies is playing this at 1:30 am. est Tuesday night/ Wednesday morn. Followed by DER OLPRINZ at 3:00 am. est. I’ve never seen any of these bratwesterns, so i’m definitely setting my DVR.

Wow Elke Sommer is so young looking in this. Always remember the role she played in Carry on Behind the most though. Granger is not as good here as he has been in these films. Ok film but prefer other story lines in other Winnetou films more.

Rewatched Unter Geiern recently and, to my surprise, found Stewart Granger’s performance quite annoying. The light-hearted, self-mocking acting style he employs in this film simply doesn’t gel with the Winnetou movies’ grave naïveté, in particular Pierre Brice’s no-nonsense uprightness. In their scenes together, Granger frequently pats Brice: Lex Barker’s wooden acting, horribile dictu, is a far better match for the Karl May films’ basic assumptions.