The Deerslayer (1923)
Director: Arthur Wellin
Cast: Edward Eyseneck
Synopsis: This silent film tells the story of Deerslayer who, adopted and raised by a tribe of Delaware Indians in 1740, encounters life and all its mysteries.
The Deerslayer (original title: Lederstrumpf) is a pretty dull German adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper novel The Last of the Mohicans. I remember once trying to read Cooper’s book when I was a kid and finding it as dry as old twigs, so perhaps it’s appropriate that this version shares it’s source novel’s dryness. Other than the guy who plays old Tom Hutter (Edward Eyseneck), the names of the cast members appear to have been lost or forgotten. One reviewer claims that the Indian brave Chingachgook is played by Dracula himself, Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, but I’m not convinced.
The movie is just under an hour long, but it feels much longer. There are a lot of intertitles needed to explain the storyline, and a lot of those intertitles completely fill the screen which, in a way, is a measure of the movie’s failure. If a visual medium requires so much written explanation then something isn’t right. Nevertheless, it is at least possible to follow the storyline if you’re of a mind (which will be debatable after the first ten minutes). The acting is pretty amateurish, though, and the direction (by Arthur Wellin) is pretty poor. Although there is one moment of unexpected — and unintentional — humour involving two men who have been tied to stakes by the Iroquois Indians. One of them turns to the other and says something along the lines of ‘I say old chap, I’m starting to feel quite bilious.’ It doesn’t exactly repay sitting through the drudgery of the other 58 minutes and 50 seconds, but it did at least raise half a smile.
(Reviewed 8th July 2013)