At the beginning of this film, the white and the red man live at peace
side by side. but still, there are respectable businessmen like Vermeulen
(Veljko Maricic) around who want to get their hands on Indian territory at
whatever cost. In fact, Vermeulen even tries to entice a war between his
friends, the Jicarillas, and the Mescaleros, the tribe of noble chief
Winnetou (Pierre Brice), with the aim of having the army intervene and
defeat both tribes, withthe result that he, Vermeulen, can sell the Indian
land to the neverending stream of settlers.
But to get Winnetou onto the warpath proves to be harder than expected,
since he not only is so peace-loving that one cannot provoke him, he and
his bloodbrother Old Shatterhand (Lex Barker) also investigate in
Vermeulen's dirty deals - and get so close to the truth that Vermeulen has
to call upon his right hand man Rollins (Rik Battaglia) and his gang to
take care of Winnetou.
Rollins and company set a few traps for the Mescalero chief, but to
little avail, but then Rollins gets his hands on Winnetou's knife ... and
plants it right in the chest of Quick Panther (Slobodan Dimitrijevic) ,
the son of White Buffalo (Dusan Antonijevic), chief of the Jicarillas,
then brings the boy's body to the Jicarillas' camp and blames Winnetou,
who together with Old Shatterhand just happens to be a guest of the
Jicarillas, for the murder. And soon enough, the bloodbrothers find
themselves tied to the Jicarillas' stakes, and it would have been their
end too, wouldn't scout Sam Hawkens (Ralf Wolter) happen to stop by with a
case of fireworks, which he uses to scare the heebiejeebies out of the
Jicarillas and in the process free Winnetou and Old Shatterhand ...
Soon enough, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand have Vermeulen arrested by
the gouvernor of New Mexico (Carl Lange), but by now the Jicarillas are on
the warpath against the Mescaleros, joined by Rollins and his gang, and
all Winnetou can do is to order his tribe to leave theri camp and retreat
ever farther while waiting for the soldiers the gouvernour has promised to
arrive. Meanwhile, Old Shatterhand and Sam Hawkens have set out to set
some traps to slow down the progress of the Mescaleros' adversaries ...
Eventually the Mescaleros have found their last retreat up in the
mountains, and it all culminates in a big shoot-out ... with the army
arriving just in time to save the Mescaleros from extinction. But Winnetou
catches a bullet fired by Rollins, to save the life of Old Shatterhand.
The Mescaleros thereafter lynch Rollins, but it's too late to save
Winnetou's life. The tribe is saved, but at what price ?
The ending of this film is a tearjerker if there ever was one, I
remember crying when I was a ltitle boy, and even nowadays, the ending
drives tears into my eyes.
As a whole, the film is pretty much a continuation of Der Schatz im
Silbersee and Winnetou I
and II, with, surprisingly
enough, no drop in quality. The plot is again simplistic and totally
sympathetic with the Native Americans' cause, while the direction sheds an
almost fairy tale-like light on the Western genre, of course greatly
helped by the romantic music and scenery. The film is just beautiful, and
the last highlight of the Winnetou series. Actually the
series should have stopped with this one (since Winnetou has died
anyways), but production company Rialto
tried to (unsuccessfully) continue the success of the series with 3 more
Surehand/Flaming Frontier (1965), Winnetou und das Halbblut
and Winnetou, Winnetou und sein Freund
Old Firehand (both 1966), with Rialto's
chief competitor CCC-Filmkunst
trying to revive the series in 1968 with Winnetou und Shatterhand im Tal der
Toten/In the Valley of the Death, but also with limited
None of these films were really good, Winnetou III however was,
and it's highly recommendable to everyone who likes old-fashioned and
simplistic but extremely well made Westerns.