(Der Amerikanische Freund)
Directed by Wim Wenders. Germany. 1977.
Shot in Paris, New York, and Hamburg, Germany, Cinematographer Robby Muller's moody waterfront shots and interior yellow-green color images enhance the mood of paranoia and keep the tension flowing. Cameo appearances by directors Nicholas Ray as a painter who faked his own death and Sam Fuller as an American mobster pay homage to these icons of American cinema. The plot centers around Ripley's revenge for an offhand remark Zimmerman made at an art auction, first spreading the rumor that is health is failing rapidly, then driving him to undertake an act that he would normally consider morally reprehensible. In trying to convince Zimmerman to commit the crime, Raoul offers to provide the services of a Paris hematologist but the lab results are faked and Zimmerman more than ever is convinced that he is going to die. Reluctantly, he commits the murder in a brilliant set piece aboard the Paris Metro, then slowly sinks into a maelstrom of deceit and deception that adds additional twists and turns to an already intricate plot.
Though questions remain
unanswered, the strength of the film is not in the plot but in its multi-leveled
characterizations and powerful performances. Ganz is fully believable as
the decent man tortured by a moral dilemma and Hopper, rebounding from
a period of substance abuse, turns in a performance of diabolical intensity
as the underworld-connected profiteer. The American Friend avoids
the temptation to be simply another film noir thriller or a good versus
evil escapade, showing fully realized human beings who have thoughts and
feelings we can understand even when we strongly disapprove of their actions.
I just have one question. Didn't any one ever tell Zimmerman about life
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