The American Friend (1977) - IMDb
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The American Friend (1977)

Der amerikanische Freund (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 28 September 1977 (France)
3:22 | Trailer
Tom Ripley, who deals in forged art, suggests a picture framer he knows would make a good hit man.


Wim Wenders


Patricia Highsmith (novel), Wim Wenders
6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Hopper ... Tom Ripley
Bruno Ganz ... Jonathan Zimmermann
Lisa Kreuzer ... Marianne Zimmermann
Gérard Blain ... Raoul Minot
Nicholas Ray ... 'Derwatt'
Samuel Fuller ... Der Amerikaner
Peter Lilienthal ... Marcangelo
Daniel Schmid ... Igraham
Sandy Whitelaw Sandy Whitelaw ... Arzt in Paris
Jean Eustache ... Freundlicher Mann
Lou Castel ... Rodolphe
Andreas Dedecke Andreas Dedecke ... Daniel
David Blue David Blue ... Allan Winter
Stefan Lennert Stefan Lennert ... Auktionator
Rudolf Schündler ... Gantner


Tom Ripley has a sweet deal with an art forger. The forger creates the paintings; Tom sells them. But another criminal business associate wants Tom to go in for an even riskier enterprise: murder. Tom suggests his associate ask a local picture framer instead. That man has a fatal disease, or so it's rumored. More, he has a wife and kid that surely he wouldn't want to leave penniless. Let this picture framer be a hit man, and no one will suspect. The terminally ill craftsman may agree to the misdeed, and several more, but he'll end up needing Tom Ripley in a pinch. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...transforms Patricia Highsmith's Ripley's Game into a gripping European noir.


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Ripley quotes from the Bob Dylan song "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" at the end of the film. ("Pity the poor immigrant... whose...") The lyrics of the song have clear parallels to the film's characters ("I pity the poor immigrant whose strength is spent in vain," "I pity the poor immigrant who wishes he would've stayed home, who uses all his power to do evil, but in the end is always left so alone, that man whom with his fingers cheats, and who lies with every breath"). See more »


About 1 hour & 8 minutes into the film the sound boom wanders into the shot. It's the scene where the character Minot is paying off Zimmerman under the bridge/pier. See more »


[first lines]
Derwatt: Who is it?
Tom Ripley: It's Ripley.
Derwatt: The door is open.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The acting credits are divided into: the four leads, the rest of the cast, and the six directors who make guest appearances ("Als Gäste die Regisseure"). See more »


References The General (1926) See more »


Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
The Kinks
See more »

User Reviews

Film noir and meditation are a bad combo
7 February 2005 | by MichaelCarmichaelsCarSee all my reviews

Wim Wenders is one of my favorite filmmakers, and like Scorsese and Tavernier, he is a world-class cinephile, as much in love with watching movies as he is making them. The problem with 'The American Friend,' I think, is similar to the problem of most contemporary films noir, which is, it's made with the knowledge it's a film noir. But it fails for a different reason than, say, 'L.A. Confidential.' The latter film is simply a big-budget period reconstruction of film noir, like something from the candy sampler box of film genres. It has no life of its own and is sort of like the model they show you when you're shopping around for a home in a new development; the furniture's well-chosen and neatly in place, but no one lives there. Other contemporary noirs, like Altman's 'The Long Goodbye,' approach the genre from a revisionist angle, and 'The American Friend' does it from the wrong angle, from a cinephile's angle.

The movie feels studied, like an academic exercise. It has no edge, no spontaneity. One can appreciate the movie, its cheeky comment on the art world, its humanism, without really enjoying it, and that's the trouble.

I've seen the movie twice and while its bold primary colors were appealing, and its meditative pace pleasurable to an extent, I found it a bit of a chore. It's interesting to see noir slowed down to a crawl, and Nicholas Ray is a delight, and surely, some sequences are involving, but the whole affair is lacking. Wenders' intensity has always been augmented by a certain lightness of touch, and that's what made the noir elements of 'Until the End of the World' a lot of fun. 'The American Friend' is too austere, though. Too muted. I thought 'Purple Noon,' René Clément's 1960 adaptation of the other Patricia Highsmith novel, was too muted the first time I watched it, but on subsequent viewings thought it to be engaging, almost musically so. Metaphysical heaviness for once bogs down a Wenders film rather than enhancing it.

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West Germany | France


German | English | French

Release Date:

28 September 1977 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The American Friend See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »


Box Office


DEM3,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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