The American Friend

"Good"

The American Friend Review


Ripley's Game the third novel (of five) in Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley series, and thus it marks a semingly strange choice for Wim Wenders to jump right into the mythology. (The Talented Mr. Ripley and Purple Noon are both based on the first book.) Then again, Ripley's Game will become a feature film again later this year, starring John Malkovich.

On the other hand, the book stands on its own fairly well, namely because it doesn't have an awful lot to do with Ripley himself. As the story goes: We find Ripley (played by a cowboy hat-toting Dennis Hopper) later in life, working a career in art sales/forgery. He makes the acquaintance of a dying picture framer named Zimmermann (Bruno Ganz - dig the 'stache!), and eventually coerces him (through asssociates) into performing a contract murder for a large sum of money, meant to set up his family after his death.

Naturally, complications arise.

Directed by Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), The American Friend is as deliberate as The Talented Mr. Ripley is frenetic. It's a much different pace than you'd expect from this kind of material but which Wenders knows all too well. The film ends up as a set piece for Ganz, with Hopper playing a considerably smaller role than you'd expect. Wenders just never generates the desperation Zimmermann needs to make this story work. The result is a slow burn that slowly peters out instead of grows into a bonfire.

The cinematography is both bleak and pretty -- bouncing between Paris and postwar Germany. The editing is appropriate, though it lets the scenes drag on too long. Watch for directors Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) and Samuel Fuller (Shock Corridor) in small roles.

Newly released on DVD, Wenders and Hopper add a commentary track, plus the disc adds over half an hour of deleted scenes (with optional commentary as well), all run together and, interestingly, set to the movie's thriller-ish theme music. It's almost a mini-film of test shots and side stories that sort of stands on its own.

Aka Der Amerikanische Freund.



The American Friend

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th June 1977

Distributed by: New Yorker Films

Production compaines: Bavaria Film, Filmverlag der Autoren, Les Films du Losange, Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Wim Wenders Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Tom Ripley, as Jonathan Zimmermann, as Marianne Zimmermann, Gérard Blain as Raoul Minot, as Derwatt, as Der Amerikaner, Peter Lilienthal as Marcangelo, Daniel Schmid as Igraham, Sandy Whitelaw as Arzt in Paris

Also starring:

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