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 26-10-09, Two Mohicans, one pseudo-giallo
Nzoog Wahrlfhehen
Posted: Oct 26 2009, 03:58 PM


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Posts: 539
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Joined: 16-April 05



The recently deceased Daniel Martín scored the curious record of playing Uncas in two film adaptations made of Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans in the single year 1965. I am not sure which one came first.
One of them was reviewed by Matt in his old European Film Review site, where it appears as The Last Tomahawk. His review dates it 1964 and this could well be the first of the two. Matt’s data, presumably drawn from the credits of the presumably English-dubbed copy he viewed, fails to take Cooper into account and the names given in the summary are different ones, indicating perhaps that the film’s marketing in the English-language world sought as much as possible to conceal its literary origins. Shot by Harald Reinl in co-production between Geermany, Italy and Spain, it takes the novel as a basis for another addition to the German Indian film cycle. It is noted for moving the action away from proto-New York in the eighteenth century to a post-Civil War Western setting, thus justifying the use of Almería locations. It is strange that an actual Civil War setting was not used for it would have been simple to simply transform the French soldiers into Yankees. As it is, Colonel Munro’s forces are simply besieged by marauders. Independently of whether one likes this or not, it is a terribly dull film, as talky as one might expect from a shortened adaptation of a long novel and with pedestrian direction by Reinl. The Spanish locations, odd rock formations and all, were right in front of the filmmaker’s noses but, as photographed by Ernst Kalinke, they count for little. A budding Anthony Steffen plays Hawkeye, German crime movie veteran Joachim Fuchsberger is Major Heyward, Reinl’s wife Karin Dor (the Cuban woman in Hitchcock’s Topaz) is Cora but the only performance of note is that of Carl Lange as Munro. The script is credited to many hands; the Spanish version, after a co-production fashion, attributes it exclusively to José Antonio de la Loma, who was often involved in these identity scams.

If Mateo Cano’s Uncas, el fin de una raza is indeed the second of the two films, it is certainly understandable that it should have been given this name, and it is significant that it did not reach Germany until 1966, where it was named after its literary inspiration. Made by an obscure Spaniard, it is hardly great stuff but much preferable to the Reinl in practically every department. The setting reverts to the Seven Years War, so we can see lots of redcoats filmed against green grass. The locations just about make do but DP Carlo Carlini does a much better job than Kalinke, and readers of this board will certainly be intrigued by the casting, not to mention the roles they have been allocated. Paul Muller is Munro and Jack Taylor was chosen to play Heyward, but neither of these choices involve any special tension between actor and role. More offbeat is the sight of José Manuel Martín as Magua, José Marco as Chingachgook and, most surprisingly, Luis Induni (a connskin cap on his head) as Hawkeye! José Guardiola, for the record, can be recognised as the Spanish voice of Paul Muller, and Alfonso del Real (the old uncle in Mario Siciliano's Erotic Family) turns up briefly as a British soldier. All in all, entertaining enough, but once again, thinly scripted. The music by Bruno Canfora and Lavagnino alternates between a martial “nobilmente” theme and some mood cues that sound like Les Baxter’s scores for Roger Corman.

Another film I’ve viewed recently is Carnalità (1974), made by the actor Alfredo Rizzo, who also plays the supporting role of a lawyer. It’s referred to in some quarters as a giallo, which it is not, and as a softcore film, which it only is to some extent. Rather, it is a thriller-tinged melodrama that has a lot of sex in it. I presume Matt won’t agree with me on this one, but I enjoyed it and, also unlike Matt, I found it quite coherent in what it aimed to be, the apparent mixture of genres being a result of its underlying logic and discourse. What it does share with the giallo is its combined fascination with and repulsion at the new world, and indeed its juxtaposition of the old and the new. However, instead of intercutting streamlined seventies interiors with old Italian architecture, what we get is a story of depraved people from the business world occasionally interrupted by cutaways to likeable small town eccentrics such as one might encounter in a fifties European comedy, whether Italian, Spanish, British or French. Latecomer director Rizzo certainly loves his crane (or the fact that the company supplied him with one) and uses it elaborately to heighten the medically improbable but thematically justified climax. Mario Bava he is certainly not, but the Bava who made Baron Blood and Bay of Blood might have approved of the implicit attitudes. Longer review by me coming up soon so you have been warned.
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