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The American Friend

By Jeff Shannon

A thriller that's nearly devoid of thrills? That's not a complaint--it's what makes The American Friend one of the most stylish (and, at the time, most expensive) films to emerge from the New German Cinema of the Super70s. Loosely adapting Patricia Highsmith's mystery novel Ripley's Game, director Wim Wenders shifted priority from plotting to character, emphasizing a richly colorful and atmospheric approach to locations in Hamburg, where a picture-framer (Bruno Ganz) is lured into an assassination scheme involving a mysterious Frenchman (Gerard Blain) and the titular American friend, Tom Ripley (played by Dennis Hopper, a far cry from Matt Damon's portrayal of the same character in The Talented Mr. Ripley). The plotting is vague to the point of irrelevance; Wenders prefers to maintain the aura of mystery, as opposed to generating any conventional suspense, and expresses his affection for American movies by casting favorite directors Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller in pivotal supporting roles. The result is an intoxicating example of cinematic cross-pollination.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Not RatedNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Wim Wenders

Stars: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Nicholas Ray

Released: December 11, 1977

Availability: DVD VHS


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