with a Twist
The Sons of Great
Directed by Josef Mach. 88 min.
A vicious frontiersman, Fred 'Red Fox' Clark (Jiri
Vrstala), kills an elderly Indian (A. P. Hoffmann) while
to discover the whereabouts of the Bear Band's secret gold
reserves. The old man's son Tokei Ihto (Gojko Mitic) goes
and he joins the Indian rebels who are resisting the US
government's plans to revoke their settlement treaties.
with the US Cavalry and a final showdown with Clark and
his gang of murderous
frontiersmen take place when Tokei Ihto convinces his
people to leave
their barren reservation and follow him in search of a new
across the Missouri river. This show was the East German
studios' first Western and it's not a bad effort. A couple
of the film's
action sequences are staged in a charmingly na´ve kind of
way but the
bulk of the action here is well executed. Some of the
campy music cues play a little incongruously at times but
cinematography is of a good quality. Jiri Vrstala makes
for an excellent bad guy: he
comes on like Klaus Kinski's even nastier older brother.
Chingachgook: The Great Snake
Directed by Richard Groschopp. 87 min.
North America, 1740: the struggle for
colonial dominance finds the English enlisting the
Delaware Indian tribes as mercenaries
while the French make similar use of the Huron tribes.
When Huron raiders kidnap
Chingachgook's (Gojko Mitic) bride to be from a Delaware
settlement, the fearless
warrior begins tracking them down with his frontiersman
pal, Deerslayer (Rolf Romer).
The trail leads the pair into clashes with English and
murderous frontiersmen and Huron warriors. This show's
sequence employs a stilted documentary-like approach but a
traditional filmic narrative format is adopted for the
main body of the
film. There are some impressive sets here (a log cabin
built in the centre
of a lake) and some superb action sequences too. A couple
of the show's
music cues do play a little incongruously but this remains
production. Based on a story by James Fenimore Cooper,
another reasonably solid effort by DEFA.
Directed by Gottfried Kolditz. 94 min.
For several years an Apache tribe has abided by a peace
treaty that allows the Mexicans
at Santa Rita to mine the tribe's land for copper. A team
of American prospectors, led by
the duplicitous Johnson (Milan Beli), are seeking to mine
gold in the
locality and they
arrange for the Apaches to be brutally massacred when they
yearly celebration that is organized by the residents of
Ulzana (Gojko Mitic), the elderly but wily Nana (Colea
Rautu) and six
other Apache warriors survive the massacre and set out for
Their plans become complicated by the outbreak of war
USA and Mexico. Made in 1973, Apaches is much more
self-assured than the two 1960s-shot films that accompany
it here. And
the film's music is much better too: it almost veers into
Ennio Morricone territory at
times. Square-jawed, muscular and athletic, Gojko Mitic is
a convincing Indian brave-cum-hero in all three of the films presented here but he
really comes into his own in
Apaches. Coming on like a cross between Jack Palance and
Piero Lulli, Milan Beli makes
for a formidable bad guy. Superbly paced and full of
surprises, Apaches remains one of
the best Indian-oriented Westerns that I've ever come
The picture and sound quality of all three films is
essentially very good.
It seems likely that the films were
originally shot with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 but these
1.85:1 editions remain welcome
releases. Each title can be bought separately.
each disc features an interview with
Gojko Mitic, film notes, biographies, a photo gallery and
a DEFA Westerns
Review reprinted from
in the fanzine "Westerns...All'Italiana"
DEFA Film Library