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Onme thing up front: I love the early films of the Winnetou-series,
namely Der Schatz im Silbersee
and Winnetou I, II and III.
With this film however, the ninth of the series (8 of which have been
produced by Rialto
film, one by CCC-Filmkunst),
the series has lost much/all of its steam. In other words, the film is
dreadful, and almost everybody who has seen it agrees ...
The film starts out like a Heimatfilm (= a form of rural
melodrama made in the German language countries, often set in the alps):
It's young half breed Apanatschi's (Uschi Glas) 21st birthday, and all the
family parties and sings at her forest home, and even Winnetou (Pierre Brice), your friendly
neighbourhood Apache chief stops by to give her a lovely dreass as a gift,
and on the way, he has saved her young brother Happy (Marinko Cosic), who
tried to steal a feather from an eagle's nest for her birthday.
Things soon take a turn to the worse though, as Apanatschi's father
(Walter Barnes) gives her a goldmine she doesn't even want ... anyways,
two friends of her fiancé Jeff (Götz George) - Pinky Vladimir Leib) and
Sloan (Petar Dobric) - would be more than happy to take it off her
hands ... and soon enough, Apanatschi's father is dead, and the girl has
to turn to Winnetou and his friend, the friendly neighbourhood scout Old
Shatterhand for help, who promise to take her to safety ... not very
successfully though, because Pinky and Sloan have since teamed up with
outlaw Curly Bill (Ilija Djuvalekovski) and his gang, who promises to help
them force the location of the mine out of the girl ... and soon enough
they have taken Apanatschi and Happy captive and as a little thank you
note, Curly Bill, not too eager to share, has Pinky and Sloan shot dead
Exit Winnetou and Old Shatterhand from the main narrative (presumably
for budgetary reasons), as suddenly all hopes lie with Jeff (who can do
magic tricks, I should mention, and who for some reason smiles his way
through the whole film), who soon infiltrates the gang, frees
Apanatschi and Happy and helps organize an attack on Rocky Town, the
headquarters of Curly Bill's gang.
What makes this even more annoying is that Götz George turns in an
obnoxious performance. Now don't get me wrong, I like Götz George, and he
has proven later in his career that he is a great, versatile actor. Only
in Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi film he - complete with his
smile and magic tricks - is as awful as the rest of the movie.
However, Curly Bill and his men can somehow escape the attack
unscathed, and soon enough they have recaptured, who is stupid enough to
blow Jeff's cover ... but in an underwhelming fight against Curly Bill,
Jeff makes good his escape.
Now Winnetou reenters the plot and offers to the outlaws to lead them
to the gold in exchange for Happy's freedom. The outlaws agree, but once
they have found the mine, they refuse to let the Indian and the boy go. In
another underhelming scene, Winnetou and Happy escape anyhow, meanwhile
Curly Bill is shot by his own right-hand man Judge (Mihail Baloh), then
the outlaws return to Rocky town ... where all the good guys with quite a
few helpers have already set a trap for them and use dynamite to blow the
baddies to kingdom come.
In the end it's back to her forest home and Heimatfilm-romanticism
for Apanatschi ... and naturally, Jeff promises to from now on stay with
As I have mentioned above, a terrible film. The love for the genre is
gone, so is directorial dillegence, any kind of decent script, fairy-tale
like atmosphere, bigger than life heroes and villains and everything else
you might associate with the Winnetou-series. Even the heroes of
the series, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, are degraded to supporting roles
in their own film, playing friendly neighbourhood lads, while center stage
is given to Götz George in his most annoying performance, and Uschi Glas,
who plays her role as ahlf breed like a young, naive Bavarian girl and
looks accordingly (in all fairness, she was a young, naive Bavarian girl,
and in later life had a long string of successes playing just that).
Given, if you like unintentional humour, you might find a few scenes to
giggle in this one, if you are looking for decent Western entertainment
though, avoid it like plague.