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The American Friend(Der amerikanische Freund)

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West Germany, France · 1977
2h 8m
Director Wim Wenders
Starring Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain
Genre Drama, Thriller

Tom Riply is an amoral American art dealer running an artwork forgery scheme. After being slighted at an auction by a dying picture framer named Jonathan Zimmerman, Riply spreads rumors that Zimmerman is a hitman in order to get even—and the job offers begin pouring in for Zimmerman.

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What are critics saying?


Slant Magazine by

From its engagement with genre tropes (particularly film noir), to its tangibly grimy urban backdrops, to its archetypal hero/villain dramatic dichotomy, there’s no mistaking the film’s American influence.


Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

The film has a fine grasp of tenuous emotional connections in the midst of a crumbling moral universe. Wenders's films (Kings of the Road, Alice in the Cities) are about life on the edge; this is one of his edgiest.


Washington Post by Gary Arnold

An absorbing but rarefied, introspective variation on traditional thriller motifs, it's probably not the synthesis between the personal and traditional that Wenders needs but it's a fascinating compulsively watchable experiment.


The New York Times by J. Hoberman

Like Taxi Driver, The American Friend was a new sort of movie-movie — sleekly brooding, voluptuously alienated and saturated with cinephilia.


The A.V. Club by Keith Phipps

Adapting Ripley's Game, the third of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, 1977's The American Friend knits Wenders' ongoing concerns into a thriller in the Hitchcock mold.


The New Yorker by Pauline Kael

Wenders' unsettling compositions are neurotically beautiful visions of a disordered world, but the film doesn't have the nasty, pleasurable cleverness of a good thriller; dramatically, it's stagnant -- inverted Wagnerism.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

There's something cheerfully perverse about filming a thriller and then tossing out the parts that would help it make sense, but Wim Wenders has a certain success with the method in The American Friend.

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