Friday, September 11, 2009


Yugoslavia: APANATSI
Director - Harald Philipp 1966
Cast: Lex Barker (Old Shatterhand), Pierre Brice (Winnetou), Gotz George (Jeff Brown), Ursula Glas (Apanatschi), Walter Barnes (Mac Haller), Ralf Wolter (Sam Hawkins), Ilija Djuvalekovski (Curly Bill), Mihail Baloh (Judge), Marinko Cosic (Happy), Nada Kasapic (Bessie), Petar Dobric (Sloan), Valdimir Leib (Pinky), Abdurahman Salja (Hank), Marija Crnobroi (Mine-Yota), Giancarlo Bastlanoni.
A Horst Wendlandt – Preben Philipsen Production
Screenplay by Fred Denger
Based on a novel by Karl May
Photography Heinz Holscher
Music by Martin Bottcher
Sets Valdimir Tadej
Editor Jutta Hering
Copyright 1966 Rialto Film Preben Philipsen
Eastmancolor in Ultrascope
Assistant Director Gundula von Seelen
Cameraman Rudolf Sandtner
Costumes Irms Pauli
Special Effects Erwin Lange
Production Assistant Charles M. Wakefield
Production Horst Wendlandt
Rialto Film (Hamburg) and Jadran Film (Zagreb).
Reusing elements from earlier installments in the Winnetou series, HALFBREED displayed ample evidence that these filmmakers were running out of ideas.
As in WINNETOU 1. TEIL (aka APACHE GOLD), the script involved a secret Apache gold mine, an attack by the railroad workers on a town wherein the bandit gang was barricaded; and again the bandit gang escaped from the saloon through a secret tunnel. What was different in this film was that the tunnel didn't have to be dug by the villains - it was already there, the interior of the tunnel was shown - it looked like the interior of a mine, and that the tunnel came out in the church cemetery not under a shack filled with dynamite.
Reunited again from UNTER GEIERN (aka FRONTIER HELLCAT) were Walter Barnes and Gotz George. Barnes didn't play George's father this time; he played George's future father-in-law. George again hopped and jumped around like a maniac, and again his character infiltrated the villainous gang. Uniquely, this time he played a trapper named Jeff who was obsessed with doing magic tricks. Unfortunately, George did not appear to have learned how to do the actual tricks for the editing obviously replaced the necessary slight-of-hand.
As Mac Haller, Barnes got to play another father. This time his wife was an Apache woman who bore him a daughter, named Apanatschi, and a son, named Happy. When he was a young man, Haller found gold on Apache land, but kept it a secret. He wanted to give the location of this gold to his daughter on her 21st birthday. Unfortunately, he didn't tell his son about the secret, so the boy didn't know better than to show Pinky and Hank, Jeff's two best friends, the nugget he found.
Gold, Winnetou noted later, drove White Men insane. As a story element, it seemed to have a similar effect on this film's writer for his plotting often went in circles and his characters seemed incapable of logical reasoning.
Fearing that Pinky and Hank might try to steal his find, Haller went off to town to finally file his claim. Already suspecting that two men were out to do him wrong, shouldn't Haller have considered that they might try to way-lay him on the road and perhaps have Jeff accompany him?
After Haller's death, only Winnetou and Apanatschi knew the location of the gold, so Hank and Pinky tried to kidnap her. Having failed, why would the two varmints go to a saloon filled with outlaws and buy everyone a round with a gold nugget unless they wanted Curly Bill to take an interest and torture them to find out where they got the gold?
Since the Haller children had already been kidnapped once at the Railroader's camp, why would our heroes allow Happy to venture off alone to go fishing outside the Apache camp unless they wanted him to get kidnapped again?
Why, after using the secret tunnel from the saloon to rescue Apanatschi and Happy, did our heroes not block the tunnel rather than allow the villains to fight their way to freedom from it? And why, after fighting their way to freedom from this tunnel did the villains want to return to the tunnel to hide the newly acquired gold? And why, after filling this tunnel with dynamite to trap the villains inside, did our heroes allow them to once again fight their way out into the open unless they wanted many from their side to be killed?
Even though this was made after the huge success of PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (aka FISTFUL OF DOLLARS), this Winnetou film showed very little sign of Italian Western influence. A few of Martin Bottcher's music cues may have sounded similar to Ennio Morricone's incidental pieces, but the main theme remained the same. The fight scenes included more of the "carefully stalking around" action rather than the large battles with alot going on at once seen in WINNETOU 1. TEIL, but Old Shatterhand still shot guns out of bad guys' hands, and Winnetou took the trouble to dunk a burning outlaw into water to put out the fire. The villain came back swinging, and the noble Indian had to clobber him into unconsciousness, but the old-fashioned "let's try to take them alive" rationale was still operating.
While it was good to see Lex Barker, Pierre Brice, Ralf Wolter and Walter Barnes working together again, this film gave UNTER GEIERN competition as the worst of the series.
Newcomer Ursula (aka Uschi) Glas had appeared in an Edgar Wallace adaptation called DER UNHEIMLICHE MONCH (aka THE SINISTER MONK) prior to getting the female lead here. Unfortunately, the Winnetou filmmakers didn't give her much to do aside from looking cute and acting spunky.
On the other hand, Nada Kasapic as the saloon owner Miss Bessie suggested womanliness. It was unfortunate that her character disappeared from the script so soon. But the suggestion that she was more than just an acquaintance of Old Shatterhand humanized the hero more than anything else in the movie.
(Thank you to John Charles for a chance to see the excellent UFA DVD release. It's a region 2 PAL 16X9 anamorphic presentation in clear 2.35:1. There's an English and two German soundtracks available, with English subtitles for scenes not dubbed into English - particularly a family sing-a-long featuring Gotz on accordion. You could also watch the movie in German with English subtitles.)


  1. I've seen and reviewed FRONTIER HELLCAT, which was shown on TCM in OAR. A good looking film and, as you say, very different from the Italian westerns of that era. These are more like the old Hollywood westerns and have an odd wooden quality. No one seems to get their clothing dirty or ruffled.

  2. The cinematography is superb and they resemble Disney films where everything is almost perfect. Still it is fun to put one on and escape like a 10-year old into a dream world of cowboys and Indians.