FunAstrology"The Leather Stocking Stumpers" (3sat): More authentic than Winnetou

"The Leather Stocking Stumpers" (3sat): More authentic than Winnetou

On January 5, 2022, 3sat will show the legendary ZDF four-part series “Die Lederstrumpferzählungen” in full.

Frankfurt – The scene wrote television history: Natty Bumppo (Hellmut Lange), called wild killer by his friends or simply leather stockings because of his clothes, but reverently called hawk-eye by his enemies because of his sure hand and sharp eye, is a prisoner in the camp of the Hurons. But chief Rivenoak (Colea Răutu) offers him to join his tribe by marrying the wife of a warrior he killed in self-defense. When the killer refuses the request several times, “The Split Oak” announces that he should die on the stake. The trunk is already so irritated that the knives flash.

Not enough for that: One of the Hurons insults him as “coyote”, “mangy dog” and “coward”: “He only hears talk of torture and then he pinches his tail!” The western man doesn’t let that sit on him: “Look him to you mingos! The mouth is bigger than the whole warrior! Just be careful that you don’t swallow yourself one day! ”In addition to being angry, the warrior hurls his tomahawk at him, but Bumppo catches him skillfully and throws him back with full force, so that he pierces his opponent’s forehead ! In the general turmoil, he manages to escape, only to end up on the torture stake a little later …

“The leather stocking tales” on 3sat: Hellmut Lange was not the first choice

The sequence with the caught battle ax and the deadly throwing reply is shot with a rapid pan by cameraman André Zarra as skillfully as in a single movement that you can only see a small cut in extremely slow motion. On Christmas Day 1969, where “Der Wildtöter” (directed by Pierre Gaspard-Huit, Jean Dréville and – unnamed – Sergiu Nicolaescu), the first part of the German-French-Romanian-Austrian joint work “Lederstockferzählungen” (French title: “La Légende de Bas de cuir ”) was first broadcast on ZDF, there was of course no video or hard drive recorder, let alone a smart TV with a stop function, fast-forward and rewind, slow playback or time-lapse. The impression must have been overwhelming for the astonished television viewer despite technical progress in the year of the first manned moon landing.

Hellmut Lange, who – despite other series successes such as “John Klings Abenteuer” (1965) – was repeatedly asked about his star role until his death in 2011, was surprisingly not the first choice. Actually, the also extremely sporty and tall Rüdiger Bahr was supposed to play the leather stump. But the then 29-year-old was too young for German co-producer Walter Ulbrich. In the five novels by James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 in Burlington, New Jersey as James Cooper – September 14, 1851 in Cooperstown, New York) Bumppo runs through a period of over 60 years. He is only 18 in “The Deerslayer, or The First War Path” (1841; German title: “Der Wildtöter”, also 1841) and in the paradoxically previously published volume “The Prairie: A Tale” (1827; “The Steppe ”, 1828) already an 80-year-old trapper with his dog Hector. That is why Ulbrich decided at the last moment in favor of 45-year-old Hellmut Lange, who, with his pockmarked and smeared face, could represent the white border guards in the Indian areas more uniformly for him.

Bahr didn’t take Ulbrich seriously. And this promised him the lead role for another subject and kept his word: in 1975, the future Al Bundy voice actor played the protagonist Elam Harnish in the four-part Jack London adaptation “Lockruf des Goldes”, the most expensive European television production at the time, as a daring romantic who sees all life as a kind of game, accumulates enormous fortunes and then loses them again.

Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, l.) und Lederstrumpf (Hellmut Lange, Mi.) freuen sich, als Cora (Louni Jacobesco) Unkas (David Alexandru) für ihre Rettung dankt.


Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, left) and Lederstockpf (Hellmut Lange, center) are happy when Cora (Louni Jacobesco) thanks Unkas (David Alexandru) for their rescue.

How Hellmut Lange experienced the shooting for “Die Lederstrumpferzählungen”

Hellmut Lange, on the other hand, already experienced his “Klondike Feeling” at the time of the Prague Spring in Romania, which is not too far away, where “The Leather Stocking Tales” were filmed. During an interview in 1998, he complained to the author of these lines of his suffering over the grueling filming, for which he received the ridiculously low sum of 30,000 German marks: “The sequence on the torture stake in particular was a real torture for me. Not because of the tomahawks and arrows that penetrated the trunk just next to my head, but because I was so cold in the thin leather suit. And the Romanian staff trembled at the Ceaușescu regime! The accommodations where we were housed in the era of real socialism could hardly be called hotels. “

But his husband stood for a long time, although he did not get along with some of his French actor colleagues: Patrick Peuvion was faithful to the role of his temporary companion Harry March, who, in order to earn something from the English colonialists, was behind the scalps of with the Hurons, allied to the French, are “too simple-minded” in private too. And with his “blood brother” Pierre Massimi (German Synchro: Norbert Gastell), who put on Chingachgook according to the motto “In tranquility lies the strength”, he also did not have a great friendship after the shooting.

role Actress
Leather sock Hellmut Lange
Chingachgook Pierre Massimi
Judith Hutter Sophie Agacinski
Hetty Hutter Carola Wied
Harry March Patrick Peuvion
Unkas David Alexandru
Cora Loumi Jacobesco
Colonel Munro Otto Ambros
Mabel Juliette Villard
Major Dunham Daniel Crohem
Jasper Christian Duroc
Miles Forman t Helmuth Schneider
Ellen Wade Catherine Jourdan
Paul Hoyer Robert Benoit

“The leather stocking tales”: More credible than with Winnetou and Old Shatterhand

In the total of 350 minutes of film, the rapprochement between red and white is still more believable than with Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, because James Fenimore Cooper is not Karl May. The German answer to Yves Montand, which was presented in four radio plays by and with Kornrad Halver, was better (two in 1970 for the “EUROPA” label of Miller International, two others in 1975 for “PEG” in the sales department of BASF) spoke the leather stockings sensitively with the creative team behind the camera. Lange still raved about the costume department, the film architects and the excellent Romanian cascadeurs 30 years after the shoot. And he liked the original Indian singing in the opening credits: “Italo-western sounds by Ennio Morricone would not have gone well with Leatherstocking and Chingachgook!”

Due to the literary qualities of the original documents, the educational mandate on public television could not be missed! For producer and screenwriter Walter Ulbrich, who with his DEROPA Film und Fernseh GmbH, from which Tele München later emerged, advanced to become the “father of the legendary ZDF adventure four-parters from 1964 to 1983”, faithfulness to the work was by no means an empty madness. Like no other filmmaker, the control freak, who also oversees editing and dubbing, was able to set up works from world literature for the screen. On the one hand, in the voiceover (this time he entrusted the narrative part to Holger Hagen, Richard Burton’s German dubbing voice), he took over entire paragraphs of Cooper, on the other hand, he did not allow himself to be deprived of artistic freedom. Since the ZDF, as a client, did not approve a fifth part, he made four episodes out of Cooper’s five “leather stocking novels” by adding “The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea” (1840; “Der Pfadfinder”, 1840) and “The Pioneers, or the Sources of the Susquehanna “(1823;” The settlers or the sources of the Susquehanna “, 1824) to the episode” The Fort on the Beaver River “(director: Jean Dréville and again unnamed Sergiu Nicolaescu) summarized. It was subsequently broadcast on television by “Der Wildtöter” and “The Last of the Mohicans” (directed by Jean Dréville).

Lederstrumpf (Hellmut Lange, r.) und Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, Mi.) haben Mabel (Juliette Villard), die Tochter von Major Dunham, im letzten Augenblick vor den Sioux gerettet.


Lederstrumpf (Hellmut Lange, right) and Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, middle) saved Mabel (Juliette Villard), Major Dunham’s daughter, from the Sioux at the last minute.

In Lange, the aging process of Bumppo is only indicated by strands of hair dyed gray. His civilization fatigue has remained, however: the story begins with a dispute between him and the judge Marmaduke Temple over the possession of a freshly hunted deer. In the following storyline in Cooper, however, both of them, each in his own way, stand up against the ruthless exploitation of nature by the settlers. Natty is imprisoned with Ulbrich, but is freed by Chingachgook. Then they move on together and experience new adventures. Unlike in “The Boy Scout”, Lange / Lederstrumpf falls secretly in love with Mabel Dunham, played by the enchanting Juliette Villard, who died of leukemia in 1971 at the age of just 28. But he is already extremely awkward at a dance ball and quickly clears the field for the younger Jasper Western (Christian Duroc), who is converted from inland captain to land officer at Ulbrich.

“The leather stocking tales”: the second part is the most precious of the four film treasures

The second TV part “The Last of the Mohicans” is based on Coopers’ most famous novel (“The Last of the Mohicans. A Narrative of 1757”, first published in the USA and Germany in 1826). It is the most precious of the four film treasures. Jean Dréville staged him naturalistically tough with the towering Iranian actor Ali Raffi as the good-looking but sinister and hate-blinded Huron leader Magua. The romance between Chingachgook’s introverted son Uncas (Alexandru David) and the astonishingly emancipated Colonel daughter Cora Munro (Loumi Iacobesco) is only hinted at.

Nat Bumppo (Hellmut Lange, M.) Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, 2.v.l.) und Paul Hover (Robert Benoit, l.) nehmen eine Einladung der Pawnees zu einem großen Fest an.


Nat Bumppo (Hellmut Lange, center) Chingachgook (Pierre Massimi, 2nd from left) and Paul Hover (Robert Benoit, left) accept an invitation from the Pawnees to a big party.

A breathtaking circular camera movement by André Zarra, which captures the two in dialogue, shows on the one hand a familiar intimacy, but on the other hand also the ethnic-social differences that were not so easy to overcome at the time. In any case, that’s infinitely more touching than when Daniel Day-Lewis in Michael Mann’s 1992 film adaptation, in the role of hawk-eye, embraces Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) in front of a waterfall despite the approaching enemy Hurons. “When death begins, the lie stops,” says a dying Mingo to Leather Stocking Lange in “Der Wildtöter”. You miss such lines of dialogue in all remakes of Cooper’s pioneering saga. Just like the ecological message with the deforestation of entire forests in the final part “The Prairie” (director: Pierre Gaspard-Huit), which Walter Ulbrich was so dear to the genocide of the indigenous people of (North) America.

The “leather stocking tales” were based on “The strange and unique adventures of Robinson Crusoe from York, reported by himself” (1964), “The story of Don Quixote of the Mancha” (1965), “Treasure Island” (1966) and ” Tom Sawyers und Huckleberry Finns Abenteuer ”(1968) another milestone in the congenial co-production of the Metz born German Walter Ulbrich and the French of Romanian origin Henri Deutschmeister. But it was also an end point, because the boss of Franco London died shortly after the TV broadcast on February 20, 1969 at the age of 67. From then on, Ulbrich had to look for other business partners.

“The leather stocking tales”

Four parts, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 3sat, from 11.35 a.m. Also available in the media library.

He found it: in 1971 he also shot “The Sea Wolf” in Romania, which is still the best of all four-part films to this day. It was only after “The Man of Suez” (1983) that ZDF dropped him because the time of classic adventure stories was over, as he was told. That made the man who brought world literature in moving pictures into local living rooms difficult to create. Retired, he died on November 13, 1991 at the age of 81 in Unterpfaffenhofen. But even after decades, people remember their TV classics and still show them as the last campfire for young and old: so today unabridged on 3sat. (Marc Hairapetian)

Our author Marc Hairapetian wrote the chapter “In search of lost time” about the radio play adaptations of the four-part adventure on ZDF in the second edition of the photo book “Seewolf and Co.” (Oliver Kellner / Ulf Marek, Schwarzkopf and Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2005, Euro 29.80).


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