The American Friend (1977)
"Der amerikanische Freund" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller  |  28 September 1977 (France)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 8,146 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 33 critic

Tom Ripley, who deals in forged art, suggests a picture framer he knows would make a good hit man.



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6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lisa Kreuzer ...
Gérard Blain ...
Raoul Minot
Nicholas Ray ...
Samuel Fuller ...
Der Amerikaner
Peter Lilienthal ...
Sandy Whitelaw ...
Arzt in Paris
Jean Eustache ...
Freundlicher Mann
Andreas Dedecke ...
David Blue ...
Allan Winter
Stefan Lennert ...
Rudolf Schündler ...


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

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Release Date:

28 September 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The American Friend  »

Box Office


DEM 3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Patricia Highsmith initially disliked Wim Wenders' film because Ripley's character didn't match her intentions. Only after she saw the film at a regular screening did she admit that Wenders had captured the essence of Ripley. See more »


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


Referenced in Blodigt jävla helvete (2008) See more »


Too Much on My Mind
Written by Ray Davies
Performed by The Kinks
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User Reviews

The beginning of violence
17 December 2007 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

Let's start with the good news: Bruno Ganz, in the part of a tragic hero tricked into felony, will make it worth your while. But pretty much everything else about "The American Friend" will please only the most dedicated followers of art-house director Wim Wenders. Although this is one of his earliest feature-length movies, it is already riddled with his trademark allusions to the history and theory of moving images, ranging from a Zoetrope toy and ubiquitous surveillance cameras to the lead character putting himself "in frame" by hanging a picture frame around his neck. Against the backdrop of Hamburg's grimy port, Wenders indulges his obsession with American culture in the guise of Dennis Hopper. Posing as a fake cowboy, he feeds fake American paintings back to the American market by way of a German auction house. The final third of the story, from the moment Zimmermann gets on the train, is completely incomprehensible without prior knowledge of the book it is based on, "Ripley's Game". What little action we see is awfully shot; most of the time, it's slow-moving people mumbling lines from Bob Dylan songs as they go about their somber business in a parallel universe heavy with misery and meaning. What we need is filmmakers who care less about movies and more about life.

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