Cast & Crew
When Old Surehand and his Apache blood brother Winnetou learn that their friend, Billy Forner, a wagon master, was killed by the Fingers Gang, Surehand volunteers to lead the wagon train. Winnetou negotiates with the Navajos to ensure the settlers' safe passage to Lake Shelly, but the Oil Prince, intent on keeping settlers' land for an oil well swindle, frames the Navajo chief's son as a robber and then kills him. The Navajos, who believe that the settlers are responsible for the murder, attack the wagon train, but Surehand arrives and exposes the Oil Prince's guilt. Surehand and Winnetou apprehend the Oil Prince and the Fingers Gang, and the wagon train moves on to Lake Shelly.
Rampage at Apache Wells
One of the more widely-distributed of these films is 1965's Rampage at Apache Wells, the sixth film in the successful series (with five more to follow) linked by the presence of the steadfast Apache named Winnetou. The initial films featured Lex Barker as the obligatory English-friendly lead playing Old Shatterhand, the sharp-shooting hero from a string of novels by Karl May, while here the protagonist switches to Old Surehand, played by British-born Hollywood action star Stewart Granger. Familiar from such popular favorites as Scaramouche (1952), The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), North to Alaska (1960) and King Solomon's Mines (1950), Granger re-ignited his career in the early 1960s after separating from wife Jean Simmons by taking lead roles in European-financed projects like Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) and one of the most successful of the German Edgar Wallace thrillers, The Trygon Factor (1966).
Granger wasn't known as much of a western star before Rampage at Apache Wells, but he fit the bill with ease here leading the heroes against a nefarious "oil prince" (The Brides of Fu Manchu's  Harald Leipnitz) trying to swipe valuable land from unsuspecting settlers and killing innocent Indians and pioneers alike. Two of the victims, a Navajo chief's son and an older wagon master, are well acquainted with Surehand and Winnetou (played as usual by Pierre Brice from Mill of the Stone Women, 1960), who are not amused by the evildoer's gang of outlaws interfering with the wagon train journey. To make matters worse, the Navajo tribe blames Winnetou for the crime against their leader, setting the stage for a series of showdowns.
Viewers unfamiliar with German genre cinema may still recognize a few faces besides Granger in front of the camera. Chief among them is Terence Hill, the comedic action star who had already been toiling for several years as a supporting player in numerous films (most notably Luchino Visconti's The Leopard, 1963); he appeared in several Winnetou films (always in different roles, this time as the physically-abused Richard Forsythe) but would soon find stardom in 1970 with They Call Me Trinity, an international smash western infused with slapstick comedy which spurred numerous imitations and sequels, usually teaming Hill with his regular co-star, Bud Spencer. Art house audiences may also be surprised to see the role of Lizzy is essayed by respected actress Macha Meril, a skilled thespian (who attended the Actor's Studio in the early '60s) who delivered strong performances in Jean-Luc Godard's Une Femme Mariée (1964), Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour (1967), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette (1976), and Claude Lelouch's Bolero (1984); however, she also continued to surprise anyone following her career with occasional returns to genre cinema in such films as Dario Argento's Deep Red (1975) and Aldo Lado's The Night Train Murders (1975). A prolific writer and cook, she also formed her own short-lived production company and is now a familiar celebrity presence, particularly in France.
Among the most picturesque and briskly-paced Winnetou outings, Rampage at Apache Wells is the only entry directed by Harald Philipp, a genre-hopping gun for hire whose resume includes such diverse offerings as a Jerry Cotton spy thriller (Manhattan Night of Murder, 1965), an Edgar Wallace thriller (The Dead One in the River Thames, 1971), and even an early, stylish giallo (Death Knocks Twice, 1969). However, the film maintains the traditional Winnetou feel particularly through the contributions of regular composer Martin Böttcher , one of the country's most prominent composers whose reputation skyrocketed with the success of these films and its numerous iconic themes. He went on to compose numerous familiar themes for European television and released several successful singles, often adapting pop standards in his own unique style. Along with Peter Thomas, he remains the name most associated with the music of '60s and '70s German cinema, with collections of his music still avidly sought among collectors.
Producer: Horst Wendlandt
Director: Harald Philipp
Screenplay: Fred Denger, Harald Philipp; Karl May (novel)
Cinematography: Heinz Holscher
Art Direction: Tihomir Piletic, Zeljko Sitaric
Music: Martin Bottcher
Film Editing: Hermann Haller
Cast: Stewart Granger (Old Surehand), Pierre Brice (Winnetou), Walter Barnes (Bill Campbell), Harald Leipnitz (The Oilprince), Macha Meril (Lizzy), Antje Weissgerber (Mrs. Ebersbach), Mario Girotti (Richard Forsythe), Heinz Erhardt (Kantor Aurelius Hampel), Paddy Fox (Old Wabble), Milivoje Popovic-Mavid (Mokaschi), Gerd Frickhoffer (Kovacz), Slobodan Dimitrijevic (Knife), Dusan Janicijevic (Butler), Davor Antolic (Paddy), Veljko Maricic (Bergmann), Ilija Ivezic (Webster), Zvonimir Crnko (Billy Forner).
by Nathaniel Thompson
Rampage at Apache Wells
Released in West Germany in August 1965 as Der Ölprinz; in Yugoslavia in 1965 as Kralj petroleja.