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20 February 2012

Der Letzte Mohikaner

The German-Italian-Spanish coproduction Der Letze Mohikaner/The Last Tomahawk (1965, Harald Reinl), based on the classic novel by James Fenimore Cooper, was a typical Euro-western. The stars were Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and Anthony Steffen as Hawkeye.

Dan Martin and Anthony Steffen
Daniel Martín and Anthony Steffen. German postcard, no. 1 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Dan Martin and Anthony Steffen in Der Letzte Mohikaner
Daniel Martín and Anthony Steffen. German postcard, no. 4 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Joachim Fuchsberger
Joachim Fuchsberger. German postcard, no. 10 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

A New European Film Genre
Der Letze Mohikaner (aka El último Mohicano in Spain and La valle delle ombre rosse in Italy) was filmed in 1964 in Almería in Andalucía (Spain), in La Ciudad Encantada, Cuenca (Spain) and in the CCC-Atelier in Berlin-Spandau, Germany. It was distributed by Constantin, the German company which had produced the western Der Schatz im Silbersee/Treasure of Silver Lake (1962, Harald Reinl). This successful Karl May adaptation had lead to a new European film genre, the Euro-Western. Harald Reinl had also directed the sequels Winnetou - 1. Teil/Apache Gold (1963) and Winnetou - 2. Teil/Last of the Renegades (1964) starring Pierre Brice as Winnetou and Lex Barker as Old Shatterhand, and now he was back to helm Der Letzte Mohikaner (1965). Co-producers of Der Letzte Mohikaner were International Germania Film in Bonn, Producciones Cinematograficas Balcázar in Barcelona, Procusa Films in Madrid, and Cineproduzioni Associate Srl in Rome, so it was a real trans-European production.

Der Letzte Mohikaner
German postcard, no. 12 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Der Letzte Mohikaner
German postcard, no. 17 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Joachim Fuchsberger, Ricardo Rodriguez, Der Letzte Mohikaner
Joachim Fuchsberger and Ricardo Rodríguez. German postcard, no. 20 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Hawkeye
Der Letze Mohikaner was based on the historical novel The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper Cooper, first published in 1826. It was one of the most popular English-language novels of its time, and was the second book of the Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy and the best known. The Pathfinder, published 14 years later in 1840, is its sequel. Der Letze Mohikaner was the 13th film version of Fenimore Cooper's novel and there were still eight more film and TV versions to come. The 1920 version directed by Clarence Brown and Maurice Tourneur is well regarded, as is George Brackett Seitz's 1936 version starring Randolph Scott as Hawkeye. The most recent version was also one of the best adaptations: The Last of the Mohicans (1992, Michael Mann), starring Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye, Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro, and Inuit actor Eric Schweig as Uncas. However many of the scenes from the 1992 film did not follow the book.

Karin Dor, Ricardo Rodriques, Der Letzte Mohikaner
Ricardo Rodríguez and Karin Dor. German postcard, no, 25 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Ricardo Rodriguez, Der Letzte Mohikaner
Ricardo Rodríguez. German postcard, no. 26 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Joachim Fuchsberger, Der Letzte Mohikaner
Joachim Fuchsberger. German postcard, no. 32 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Story of the Novel
The story of the novel takes place in 1757 during the Seven Years' War (known in America as the French and Indian War), when France and the United Kingdom battled for control of the American and Canadian colonies. During this war, the French often allied themselves with Native American tribes in order to gain an advantage over the British, with unpredictable and often tragic results. The story is set in the British province of New York, and concerns a Huron massacre (with passive French acquiescence) of from 500 to 1,500 Anglo-American troops, who had honorably surrendered at Fort William Henry, plus some women and servants; the kidnapping of two sisters, daughters of the British commander; and their rescue by the last two Mohicans, and others.

Der Letzte Mohikaner
German postcard, no. 33 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Joachim Fuchsberger.
Joachim Fuchsberger. German postcard, no. 43 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Joachim Fuchsberger, Marie France in Der Letzte Mohikaner
Joachim Fuchsberger and Marie France. German postcard, no. 44 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Story of the Film
In the film version Der Letze Mohikaner, Alice (Marie-France) and Cora Munro (Karin Dor) attempt to find their father (Carl Lange), a British officer in the French and Indian War. They are set upon by French soldiers and their cohorts, Huron tribesmen led by the evil Magua (Ricardo Rodriquez). Fighting to rescue the women are chief Chingachgook and his son Unkas (Daniel Martín aka Dan Martin), the last of the Mohican tribe, and their white ally, the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, known as Falkenauge/Hawkeye (Anthony Steffen). The other hero of the film is Captain Hayward, played by Joachim Fuchsberger. Ma Cortes at IMDb reviews the film: "This is an exciting film, plenty action, thrills, fights, love and breathtaking outdoors from Almeria. Acceptable action sequences with rousing attacks and spectacularly realistic battles. Charismatic performance for all casting. The notorious Spaghetti actor, Anthony Steffen is good as Hawkeye and Karin Dor, director's wife, is wonderful. Special mention to Daniel Martín as honorable Unkas and Ricardo Rodriguez as Magua as an appropriately villainous in a powerful performance. Look for secondary actors usual of Spaghetti Western as Frank Braña, Rafael Hernandez and Chris Huerta, among others. Colorful cinematography by Francisco Marin reflecting splendidly the sunny exteriors from the haunted city of Cuenca and Almeria where in the 60's and 70's were shot hundreds Spaghetti Westerns." The film was not a huge success though, but the novel stayed popular. The phrase 'the last of the Mohicans' has now been used often proverbially to refer to the sole survivor of a noble race or type. In 2011, The Last of the Mohicans was parodied as The Last of the Meheecans in the popular animated series South Park. In this episode, the character of Butters, who has become lost in the woods after playing Border Patrol with the other boys, finds himself to be the 'last of the Meheecans' (meaning Mexicans on his team).

Ricardo Rodriquez
Ricardo Rodríguez. German postcard, no. 52 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Dan Martin
Daniel Martín. German postcard, no. 56 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Ricardo Rodríquez in Der Letzte Mohikaner
Ricardo Rodríguez. German postcard, no. 57 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Dan Martin, Roberto Rodriquez
Daniel Martín and Ricardo Rodríguez. German postcard, no. 62 of 64. Photo: Constantin.

Sources: Filmportal.de, AllMovie, Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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