Released in Romanian cinemas two weeks after Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer (1968), Moartea lui Joe Indianul is the second chapter of this Franco/German/ Romanian serial. This feature, as well as its predecessor, are as liberally adapted from Mark Twain's source materials in some places as they are faithful in others. Filmed in the Galati region of Romania and re-located to the old west town of St. Petersburg, the familiar story was shot with a predominantly Romanian and French cast and dubbed into the local language wherever it was released (in cinemas in some regions, on television in others).
The film is somewhat episodic, an understandable by-product of it having been shot primarily to be seen as four 90-minute installments of a serial. In the first half of the feature, Tom and Huck ("Hucki" in this version) witness Injun Joe rob and kill a traveler, and come to the defense of the wrongly-accused town drunk. The second, more engaging portion of the story, centers around Tom and Becky Thatcher discovering Injun Joe's treasure stash while lost inside a deep system of caverns. Tom and Huck return the loot to the grateful townspeople, and Injun Joe meets his fate when his partners in crime come for their share. Production value is adequate, though noticeably low budget (lots of people wear holsters without guns) and the picture is rife with continuity errors. The score by Vladimir Cosma is quite pleasant.
This film, as well as Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer, played in a retrospective of Romanian children's films in Bucharest in November 2003. The appreciative audience was made up mostly of pre-teens and their thirty- and forty-something parents who remembered the film fondly from their own childhoods.
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