Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Best & The Worst: Treasure of Silver Lake

Quite a few years ago, I was watching the Encore Westerns channel and just happened upon a heretofore unknown film called Treasure of Silver Lake (1962.) I had no idea what I was in for and it was an almost surreal experience (being a German-made western set in America, but filmed in Yugoslavia and Croatia, and with dubbed voices for all.) Once I adjusted my mindset a bit, I found myself becoming highly invested in the adventurous story and loving what I was seeing. I later sought out as many of the films in this ongoing series as I could, and I enjoyed them too, but Silver Lake remains my favorite. Recently I got to see a gorgeously-restored widescreen version of it (now on Blu-Ray) and it was even better than I remembered!

The original German title.
Blue-eyed Frenchman Pierre Brice made a cottage industry of playing the Apache chief Winnetou in many films and even on stage. Lex Barker, a former Tarzan, played Old Shatterhand in several films.
The unusual terrain is highlighted by the gorgeous widescreen cinematography.
The "worst" for me is the sometimes questionable dubbing (and for some reason in these and countless other dubbed European films, there is always loud, boisterous laughter going on for no apparent reason.) Also, this character, played by Eddi Arent, is part of a triad of comic relief roles who - depending on one's tolerance - a viewer may need relief from! This foppish lord stumbles into the story line in search of a rare butterfly!
The other two characters with the potential to grate are the dark-haired one - who speaks only in rhymes - and the bewigged one who was once attacked by an Indian and occasionally takes off his "hair" to itch what's left of his scalp! The rhyming one is by far my least favorite of the three.
More to my taste is the glowing, deliriously handsome Götz George who plays the son of a landowner who has discovered the treasure of the title. If he seems at all familiar, it's because I gave him a brief tribute when he passed away a couple of years ago.
Another example of the striking scenery.
George's vivid red shirt against the painterly (and real!) mountains and sky.
Bronzed Lex Barker starts off the movie with a thick, blond beard, but soon shaves it off.
Directly after shaving it, shots pour in from the window, forcing Barker and George into a clinch. I like to finish up my shaving habits this way, too, but rarely do...
Chief villainy comes in the form of Herbert Lom. Few people could cast as direct or as threatening a gaze as Mr. Lom when he wanted to.
Needless to say, among the best in this film is the searingly beautiful George and his crystalline eyes!
There's a fairly resourceful female (Marianne Hoppe), too, who helps hold off a horde of bad guys at a fort.
There is true grandeur in the sequence, with a huge, two-story house surrounded by tall fencing. The bad guys use large rolling bales to hide behind as they approach with flaming torches.
Forty-three year-old Sexy Lexy, who'd found a new, wildly-successful career in Europe, was still looking good. Sadly, he would be dead of a heart attack just eleven years later. 
I was just gobsmacked that George was doing what appeared to be every single one of his own stunts, from hopping aboard a team of runaway horses pulling a stagecoach to jumping from a moving horse in this scene to drag Lom to the ground!
Their fight scene is quite rugged, but hilariously choreographed with George sending Lom tumbling into the air, Lom burying his face in George's ass and then George catching Lom's head between his legs...! (Is it getting warm in here?)
It ends with George picking Lom up by the balls and then cupping his hand over Lom's crotch before tossing him into the dirt!
The film's heroine is played by pretty Karin Dor, who Hitchcock fans may recall from Topaz (1969.) She's the one who sank to the floor as her voluminous gown spread out below her. Here, her primary act is to be held hostage THREE different times...!
The film would be a pretty serious affair were it not for the continued presence of these three "amusing" tag-alongs. Somehow, during my last viewing, they didn't bother me as much as they once did, but I'm not much on broad comic relief.
The film's participants are subjected to incident after incident, from a tense arrow-filled ambush at a burnt-out Indian village... a knock-down drag-out battle between Barker and one of the tribes hulking warriors (who's given a hysterically sonorous voice in the English dub.)
When we finally do arrive at Silver Lake, it is indeed breathtaking, with teeming waterfalls and, as seen here, a natural rainbow.
Silver Lake.
But once more, Dor has been captured by Lom. George (not shown) is as well.
If you're going to play a guard who is knocked out and has his gun stolen, there are worse ways for it to be done that to have a shirtless Götz George slither across your face as he's reaching for your pistol...!
But the freedom doesn't last long. Can I just - again - point out how George's beauty jumps from the screen?!
I should think fans of bondage would like this segment. Some folks may have focused in on Dor's pouting breasts, but George's beefy pec was all I could take in by this point!
George was either convinced to shave his chest for this part or else wanted to (I presume the former), though in future roles he would show off a hairy physique.
I can't say enough about the gorgeous location filming, the almost endless series of adventures and the finale inside the cave near Silver Lake, which looks as if it could easily have inspired George Lucas when he was making Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989.)
The stars are lovingly photographed throughout. Barker and Brice were extremely popular in these roles, which remain lesser known to many U.S. film fans.
And, I'm sorry, but there are few young male leads as invigorating as George. To see him in the movie, in perpetual motion, literally hurling himself from one spot to the next, doing all sorts of crazy stunts while also looking like this... Sigh. You may see this film for yourself here if you wish. Try to watch it on as large a screen as you can.
Bonus Pic: George and Barker re-teamed (shown here with costar Uschi Glas during leisure time) on Winnetou and the Crossbreed (1966) by which time his chest hair was back in full flower (as were his swim trunks!)
Bonus Pic: By this 1978 TV appearance (on the German series Derrick), hair was "in."
Sweet dreams, folks...

  * * * ALSO - If you recall the very first installment of The Best & The Worst, there was a question regarding the exposure of Jeff Bridges in the 1979 film Winter Kills. I have updated the post with some revealing information at the bottom of the page.  * * * Till next time!


Gingerguy said...

Treasure indeed Poseidon. There is something to be said for stumbling across a film and having no expectations. It happens less and less as there with Netflix queues and on demand television. This does look surreal, I think I mentioned in the last gorgeous George post that "Johnny Guitar" is a European version of western themes and this looks to be in the same vein.
Dubbed horror films often have lots of cackling laughter for no apparent reason, maybe sound dubbers thought they had to fill up the silence?
That crazy wig on the scalped guy, what the heck?
I know Herbert Lom from the Pink Panther movies, the extras around him in these stills are all kind of hot.
I agree on those blue eyes, and the rest of him ain't bad either. I even like Lexs' beard. Will keep en eye out for this version of the old Croation west.

Poseidon3 said...

Hi Gingerguy, I did link the movie on youtube if you or anyone else wants to see it. (While it lasts, often this is taken down, but the title of the video in question may help it last longer.) It's got many things worth seeing from the great settings to the visually appealing stars. And regarding Lom, I always thought it was neat that he managed to be both hilariously amusing AND intensely scary in his career. Thanks!

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

Just taking a moment to comment (or rather rant) about your update regarding Jeff Bridges in Winter Kills.

I am outraged by this new trend to somewhat sanitize classic movies. Not too long ago, I watched The Last Picture Show (coincidentally another Jeff Bridges movie) and the full frontal shot of the guy walking out of the pool had been re-positioned so that male genitalia is no longer visible.

But what really ticked me off was the deletion of Barbra Streisand using the F-word in The Owl and the Pussycat (DVD and televised versions) First of all, the word is heard left and right on any cable, what's the big deal? But, what upsets me to no end, is that now the scene in question no longer really makes sense to someone watching the movie for the first time, because it is her telling the guys to F-Off that provokes them to chase her and George Segal. Fortunately, I still have my old VHS copy which I had transferred onto DVD.

What's next?

Poseidon3 said...

Knuckles, it's almost needless to say (but of course I will say it!) that I agree with you 100%, completely, totally!!! It's just disgusting. The movie is the movie is the movie. It is what it was and DON'T FUCK WITH IT! It almost seems like gaslighting viewers because you'll have something etched in your psyche, then re-watch it and begin to question your own sanity as if you dreamed it up rather than actually having witnessed it. I cite my usual example of Kathy Bates in "Misery" feeling cheated because a movie serial slightly changed the editing the next time she went to see the resolution of a cliffhanger, prompting her to scream, "He didn't get out of the cock-a-doo-dee CAR!" LOL Deleted scenes on a DVD? - yay. An extended version that puts them in? - Fine, as an extra. But the original movie should still be what it was. And to go back and snip it here or there to appeal to modern tastes or - God forbid - family values? No. NO NO NO NO NO! (BTW, I have also experienced the new "The Last Picture Show" which has less to show in its picture!! Ha ha ha!!! Ridiculous. Thank you for commenting - something you rarely do here - and getting me all fired up about it again. :-)