Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend)


Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend)

Critics Consensus

The American Friend is a slow burning existential thriller that does justice to the Patricia Highsmith source novel.



Reviews Counted: 22

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,776


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

Hamburg denizen Jonathan (Lowell Ganz) is under the impression that he is dying from a blood disease. Jonathan's "American friend," displaced cowboy Ripley (Dennis Hopper), decides to use his illness to his advantage. Ripley introduces him to gangster Minot (Gerard Blain), who proposes to the dying man that he should become an professional mob assassin, assuring a large legacy for his wife and children. Since he is facing death anyway, what has he to lose? Ripley had originally intended to allow Jonathan to do the dirty work that he didn't feel like doing, but has second thoughts when he becomes friends with the doomed man. In the end, it is Ripley who is the loser, even though Jonathan turns out to be right about his days being numbered. Director Wim Wenders based his screenplay for American Friend on one of the many "doppelganger" crime novels by Patricia Highsmith.

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Bruno Ganz
as Jonathan Zimmermann
Dennis Hopper
as Tom Ripley
Lisa Kreuzer
as Marianne Zimmermann
Gérard Blain
as Raoul Minot
Nicholas Ray
as Prokasch, aka Derwatt
Samuel Fuller
as The American
Peter Lilienthal
as Marcangelo
Daniel Schmid
as Ingraham
Sandy Whitelaw
as Doctor in Paris
Jean Eustache
as Friendly Man
Lou Castel
as Rodolphe
Wim Wenders
as Bandaged Man
David Blue
as Allan Winter
Stefan Lennert
as Auctioneer
Gerty Molzen
as Old Lady
Adolf Hansen
as Schaffner
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Critic Reviews for Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend)

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (5)

  • ... only a filmmaker as humane as [director Wim Wenders] could recognize there's no way out of the story's moral corruption.

    Feb 14, 2018 | Full Review…
  • An absorbing but rarefied, introspective variation on traditional thrilleer motifs, it's probably not the synthetis between the personal and traditional that Wenders needs but it's a fascinating compulsively watchable experiment.

    May 5, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Superb adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game, with Hopper as her amiably cynical hero.

    Feb 9, 2006

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Gripping 1977 American thriller from Wim Wenders that turns back on itself with deadly European irony.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • The cool, cunning sociopath of Highsmith's novel becomes a restless international hustler, selling art forgeries and brokering deals (some of which may actually be legal) while travelling back and forth through Germany, France, and the United States.

    Mar 30, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend)

Nice performances, but too slow for me. And unlike others, I didn't find much to savor here. A thriller/mystery this predictable coupled with such a sluggish pacing is not my cup of entertainment.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

beautifully shot and atmospheric thriller based on ripley's game with a great performance by bruno ganz. i admit i found it hard to imagine hopper as ripley but he was quite good too. and it seems to be making a statement about u.s vs. europe. don't trust the americans? hmm...

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A brilliant art house noir by Wim Wenders, adapted from Patricia Highsmith's Ripley's Game. Bruno Ganz plays Jonathan Zimmermann, a picture framer with an incurable blood disease, whose precariousness of health is manipulated by Dennis Hopper's Tom Ripley, a sociopathic art dealer seeking to recruit a contract killer for a gangland associate. Eager to provide his wife and son with some financial security before his 'imminent' demise, Zimmermann is sucked into the criminal underworld. Wenders' presentation is dazzling enough to prevent us from scrutinising the rather implausible plot too closely. There are a couple of artsy digressions - unfortunate, because Robby Müller's stunning photography ensures that the film would have been just as aesthetically pleasing without them - but, happily, Wenders doesn't let them get in the way of the story. I could have done without some of Hopper's trademark nutty behaviour - he's Dennis Hopper, right! I'll buy the fact that he's crazy sight unseen - but it's fun to see him playing opposite Nicholas Ray, the director who gave him an early break with Rebel Without a Cause. Curiously, the protagonist here is called Zimmerman(n) and the film closes with Ripley mumbling the lyrics to Bob Dylan's I Pity the Poor Immigrant. Coincidence?

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

Like a lot of Wenders' stuff, I love the way this movie looks, but am still trying to figure out what the fuck was going on in some scenes.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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