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 8,140 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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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?


Director Wim Wenders originally wanted to adapt his favorite Patricia Highsmith novel, "The Cry of the Owl," but the film rights had already been sold. He then attempted to obtain the rights to his next favorite Highsmith novel, "The Tremor of Forgery," but the rights to this novel had also already been sold. Upon learning that Wenders wanted to adapt one of her novels, Highsmith offered him an unpublished manuscript of "Ripley's Game." See more »


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


Referenced in Lena (2001) See more »


Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
The Kinks
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User Reviews

I want to tell you how incredible this film is..
7 June 2005 | by (Bangladesh) – See all my reviews

I want to tell you how incredibly joyous this film is...but I worry that I'll tell you the wrong way and sound ridiculous. So don't read any further. Just see the movie for yourself.

Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz are fantastic as the perverse Ripley and his randomly picked/stalked friend. I've never seen a buddy-buddy film where the bonding is done quite like this, unreal. Unreal how deep they go. No, really, it's that amazing.

Odd things that I liked: I like the way the two shift casually between English and German. I like the Bartok-ish music. The cinematography is great, and on the DVD commentary you will hear Wenders talk about Robby's inventiveness with gels. The train scene is one crisis after another but also contains some hilarious bits (the business with the tickets). Another powerful moment takes place later at Tom's house where they try to execute a reverse-ambush. Jonathan, pipe in hand, looking down sadly at the henchman he'd just sent down for good.

What else do I like without revealing too much of the plot? Gee, I guess I like everything about this film. This is one of those films (Je vous salue, Marie; Paris Texas; Lost in Translation; Chungking Express are others) that I LOVE so dearly that I hate myself for talking about it because it's inevitable that I will be wronging it with the inadequacy of my language (ie trying to capture something that is beyond words).

41 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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this movie is great!!! carlaisthe
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