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Die Goldsucher von Arkansas [Movie]

Die Goldsucher von Arkansas (literally, The Gold Seekers of Arkansas), produced in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1964, is based loosely on Friedrich Gerstäcker’s novel Die Regulatoren in Arkansas, which is set in Arkansas. Fitting into the genre of the spaghetti western, the film was released in Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain (under two separate titles), Sweden, Finland, and the United States. The title in the United States was Massacre in Marble City, while in the United Kingdom, it was released as Conquerors of Arkansas. Directors were Paul Martin in Germany and Alberto Cardone in Italy.

Although both the novel and movie take place in Arkansas, considerable license was taken in adapting the novel, and in the process, Gerstäcker’s historical accuracy is lost. Locations named by Gerstäcker, such as Petit Jean Mountain and the Fourche La Fave River, are still familiar today, but the places named in Die Goldsucher, such as Marble City and the mountains surrounding it, are fictional both in name and in existence.

The rumor of gold, mentioned casually in the book, is the basis for the plot of the movie. Word of gold found on land belonging to the Mescalero Apache triggers a gold rush centered on Marble City. A wagon train brings families of gold seekers, and a gambler arrives to take advantage of the hoped-for riches. The search for gold leads to conflict with the Mescalero, and farmers already settled in the area are caught in the middle. In the end, Marble City is a burned-out ruin, and few are left standing aside from the hero (a farmer) and the heroine (one of the young women from the wagon train).

The plot of the book—centering on a gang of horse thieves and the band of regulators, or vigilantes—is suggestive of authentic events in territorial Arkansas. Some plot details survived the adaptation. Both include a preacher who is actually a crook and a trio of conflicting groups: the “good guy” settlers, the Anglo criminals, and the Native Americans, who in both stories befriend and help the good guys in the final conflict.

For additional information:
Die Goldsucher von Arkansas.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058151/combined (accessed July 6, 2011).

Die Goldsucher von Arkansas.” Spaghetti Western Database. http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Goldsucher_von_Arkansas,_Die (accessed July 6, 2011).

Gerstäcker, Friedrich. Die Regulatoren in Arkansas. Leipzig: Wigand, 1845.

Shirley Sticht Schuette
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Last Updated 3/5/2012

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