7.8/10
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Fox and His Friends (1975)

Faustrecht der Freiheit (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 2 February 1976 (USA)
A young West German working-class man wins the lottery and initiates a relationship with a man above his social standing.

Writers:

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Christian Hohoff (contributing writer)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Chatel ... Eugen Thiess
Rainer Werner Fassbinder ... Franz Biberkopf
Karlheinz Böhm ... Max (as Karl-Heinz Böhm)
Adrian Hoven ... Wolf Thiess, Eugen's father
Christiane Maybach ... Hedwig
Harry Baer ... Philip (as Harry Bär)
Hans Zander Hans Zander ... Barman Springer
Kurt Raab ... Wodka-Peter
Rudolf Lenz Rudolf Lenz ... Attorney Dr. Siebenkäss
Karl Scheydt Karl Scheydt ... Klaus
Peter Kern Peter Kern ... Florist 'Fatty' Schmidt
Karl-Heinz Staudenmeyer Karl-Heinz Staudenmeyer ... Krapp (as Karl Heinz Staudenmeier)
Walter Sedlmayr Walter Sedlmayr ... Car dealer
Bruce Low Bruce Low ... Doctor
Marquard Bohm ... American Soldier (as Marquart Bohm)
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Storyline

Working class and middle-upper class worlds come together in this interesting look at class conflict within the gay world from the German director Reiner Werner Fassbinder. Fassbinder plays Fox, he is working class, a former circus performer who wins the lottery of DM 500,000. His life starts to look up and doesn't have to struggle financially. Fox can now have the life and things that he has always wanted. He begins a new relationship with Eugen, creates a business partnership, and his life is looking bright. While he wants to climb up the social ladder, it isn't without turmoil, and being torn between his old working class roots, and the shiny new facade of middle class consciousness. Written by Nathan Niessen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Survival of the fittest.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German | English | French

Release Date:

2 February 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fox and His Friends See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 450,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

City Film,Tango Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The normally overweight Rainer Werner Fassbinder dieted strenuously to lose weight in order to play the role of Fox, which included a full-frontal nude scene. See more »

Quotes

Franz Bieberkopf: [repeated lines Fox says to Eugen] I love you!
See more »

Connections

References All That Heaven Allows (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Bird On A Wire
Written by Leonard Cohen
Performed by Leonard Cohen
Courtesy of Sony/ATV Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
9/10
22 October 2004 | by desperatelivingSee all my reviews

I'm continually blown away with Fassbinder. And it's all the more affecting because, like all great artists, he challenges your conceptions and forces you to have a new experience. We have to fight our way through his movie, critiquing everything we see. Fox is sure he will win the lottery. Today will be the day. And, he does. Like the ending of "Ordet," this is a cliché embraced, but why? Fassbinder is far too intelligent and original a talent to be conventional without a reason. (In fact, in a regular movie Fox's lottery win would be a thrilling set-piece, sitting in front of a TV screen in a living room, with some dying family member in a hospital bed awaiting money for treatment. Here, we don't even see the win.) Of course the lottery win is a set-up for the way money affects a relationship, especially in gay culture.

Basically, Fassbinder is truth. There's a much more honest depiction of factory work here than in, say, von Trier's later films, where he dotes on the "common" man (just as often, woman) as if a simpleton that we should feel sorry for (I doubt they feel sorry for themselves; von Trier just obliges us to feel that way on their behalf). The mistakes made here are by the controllers of the factory -- it's Fox's scheming lover's father who gets the business bankrupt, and it's Fox, after he lends his lover money to get them out of debt, who screws up the printing. But Fox isn't humiliated by his mistake, whereas a blind, helpless Bjork in "Dancer in the Dark" is made to be a pitiable object. (To be fair, both Fassbinder and von Trier have a tendency to wallow in the miserable.)

Fassbinder focuses his film mainly on the class barrier -- Fox's lover makes insulting comments to him regarding proper manners -- but he's also giving us a kind of gay relationship film noir -- we see ex-lovers kissing (in a ceiling mirror!) behind current lovers' backs, and money corruption plays a large part in the film. (Fox's lover is excellent in his role; he never plays a character who's sole purpose for living is to plot in a corner about how he'll be evil today.) And Fassbinder's view of society as something that destroys people is very noirish (Fox isn't completely in the dark; he does understand he's being used as it's happening). But to be sure, Fassbinder is also detailing the upper-class homosexual in a very critical way; but I think he could have done much more exposing the shallowness of gay culture. (He mainly treats Fox's lover and his ex-/secret lover with peeking-through-keyhole disdain, no doubt partly from Fox's perspective, but I find that somewhat childish and not terribly interesting. It's the view of someone who's been screwed over and feels depressed about it, not someone intent on exposing why people are corrupt, and how.) You don't know quite how to feel about this; in a way Fassbinder is very brave -- he casts himself in an incredibly unromantic role. And at the same time it's interesting because, while Fassbinder doesn't seem too pleased with the superficial manner of the gays whose eyes immediately fixate on money and looks, his own film features an abundance of male nudity early on, of young, very attractive boys that Fox himself is quite attracted to.

On a more technical aspect, there are plenty of interesting shots, of reflections, or obscurities, or of the backs of heads or bodies; one particularly stand-out scene is the one where Fox and his lover are vacationing in Morocco and cruise for a man, and when in a taxi with him the camera observes the festival around them while we listen to their discussion. (The man they pick up is Ali from "Fear Eats the Soul," and many of Fassbinder's stable appear in the film. The fact that it's Ali playing a Moroccan -- albeit, one that's ostensibly gay, so it may not in fact be Ali -- gives the film a self-referential bent, though it's never gimmicky; rather, a continuous web of obsessions; there is a comment on racism inputted in this scene, as well.) The ending of the film is a bit too cruel and heavy-handed, though the pessimist in me appreciates it, the part of me that believes society is a pitiless social system out to wreck anything with a pureness of soul. 9/10


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