UNTER GEIERN (1964)
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)