The German doctor and diplomat Karl Sternau (Lex Barker) is - with the
blessing of Abraham Lincoln (Jeff Corey) - supporting rebel leader Benito
Alvarez (Fausto Tozzi) in fighting Mexico's FRench oppressors and its
Austrian Emperor Maximilian. However, Juarez is short on money, and
Lincoln, having a civil war on his hands, can't help on that account ...
but Sternau has contacts to Don Fernando (Friedrich von Ledebur), an
immensely rich nobleman who secretly supports the revolution and whose
hacienda is populated mainly by Aztecs, who are in the frontline of the
revolution, including Aztec princess Karja (Theresa Lorca), one of the
very few people who know where the treasure of the Aztecs is hidden ...
Things turn bad though when a) Benito Juarez fires Capitano Verdoja
(Rik Battaglia), who has used the revolution merely for his own gain and
who soon enough forms a violent gang of outlaws, and b) when Don
Fernando's no-good son Don Alfonso (Gérard Barray) loses a great sum at
the gambling table, and his girlfriend Josefa (Michèle Girardon) finds a
way to use it to their advantage and have Don Fernando killed in a duel.
However, before his death, Don Fernando has just enough time to disown his
son and make Sternau his executor - which makes Don Alfonso turn both
against the revolution and against Karl Sternau. What makes the situation
even more peculiar though is that Don Alfonso has sweettalked Princess
Karja and tries to get from her the secret of the Aztec treasure ...
It all ends in a massive shoot-out during which Karl Sternau is
seriously wounded - but Princess Karja finds him, and since he has once
saved her life, she brings him to safety - right to the cave where the
Aztec treasure is hidden ...
To be continued in the film Die Pyramide des Sonnengottes ...
Ralf Wolter provides the comedy relief.
In the 1960's, when production company Rialto
struck gold with the Winnetou-films,
a series based on Western novels by German author Karl May, rival CCC-Filmkunst
desperately tried to jump the bandwagon, first with a Winnetou
film of their own (Old Shatterhand), then with a series of
films based on Karl May's Orient-adventures with hero Kara Ben Nemsi
and finally with the two Karl Sternau films, Westerns
written by May set during the Mexican revolution - and like in most of Rialto's
Lex Barker played the lead in all of CCC-Filmkunst's Karl May
As a film, Der Schatz der Azteken is so-so at best, it features
an over-convoluted with way too many narrative threads to tie up in even
two movies, at the same time a bunch of overly-clichéd plot devices, a
lack of stringent storytelling and almot no real tension. And the
cliffhanger this film ends on is a bit of a disappointment. Still, the
film is not all bad, it's closely related to naive movie-serials from
about 30 years earlier (and not only because of the cliffhanger ending),
the direction from Hollywood veteran Robert Siodmak is competent (even if
it's a far cry from his best films) and most of the action is quite ok.
So as long as you are looking for nothing more than a naive,
old-fashioned B-adventure, you might like this ... jut don't expect