Sunday, February 9, 2020

Der Klosterjäger ( 1953 ) aka The Monastery's Hunter

Haymo ( Erich Auer ) is the official "jäger" ( forest ranger ) for the monastery at Berchtesgaden. One day while patrolling the mountains he hears a cry for help. It is Gittli ( Marianne Koch ), a young woman who lost her footing on a dangerous cliffside while picking flowers. Haymo rescues her and falls in love with her at first sight. 

Gittli brings the flowers that she picked to the bailiff hoping to win his favor as she pleads on behalf of her brother Wolfrat ( Kurt Heintel ) for extra time in paying the rent that is due for their family's hut. During the 1600s ( the time of the story's setting ), provinces in Germany were owned by princes who required their tenants to pay them rent money for their farms. Gittli's brother is a desperate man. He not only has no money for the rent, but his daughter is also terribly ill. The local "bader" ( country doctor ) tells him that only the sweat of an ibex can cure his daughter. 

Hunting game of any kind is strictly verboten, but Wolfrat decides to risk being caught by the jäger Haymo in his attempt to shoot an ibex ( a large wild goat ) to save his daughter. However, he is spotted and, in fear, he stabs the jäger as he tries to escape. Poor Gittli then attempts to save the life of her beloved Haymo, while worrying that her brother will be caught for his crime. 
Der Klosterjäger was the third film adaptation of Ludwig Ganghofer's classic novel of the same name. It paired two actors who were extremely popular in the Heimatfilme genre - Erich Auer and Marianne Koch. They made a lovely couple onscreen. Auer was an Austrian actor who became a rather unlikely leading man in the 1950s, often playing in historical films. Marianne Koch had a long career both in Germany, Italy, and the United States and is best known to American audiences for playing Marisol in A Fistful of Dollars ( 1964 ). For many years she was a panelist on the German version of "What's My Line?" and later switched careers to become a doctor. 
Like most fairy tale romances, Der Klosterjäger has a predictable plot, yet this doesn't mean it fails to be entertaining. There is a mountaintop bear fight, plenty of drama, and the location filming in the Bavarian Alps is beautiful. The sets are also excellent, and the supporting cast is made up of many familiar German character actors including Willy Rösner, Karl Skraup, and Paul Hartmann. Also in the cast is Paul Richter who starred as Haymo in the 1935 film adaptation. 

Der Klosterjäger is still shown frequently on ZDF, a German television channel, as one of the "classics". It is not available on DVD in the United States but appears occasionally on Youtube. 

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