The American Friend

In 1977, THE AMERICAN FRIEND won the German Critics Prize as well as gold in two categories of the German Film Prize and is now considered a cult film. Wenders adapted Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game for the film.

Jonathan Zimmermann (Bruno Ganz) believes that he will soon die of leukemia. The unscrupulous American Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper), learns of this and exploits Zimmermann’s illness for his own purposes. He introduces Jonathan to the underworld figure Minot (Gérard Blain), who offers to hire the terminally ill man as a professional hit man. He is to be paid appropriately for his work and thus enabled to leave something behind for his wife (Lisa Kreuzer) and their child. What does he have to lose, since he is going to die anyway?

A friendship develops between the two very different men, and this ultimately leads Ripley to intervene when Zimmermann proves incapable of carrying out an additional murder.

The cast of Wenders’s film includes not only the directors Dennis Hopper and Gérard Blain—many of the supporting roles of gangsters are also played by fellow directors, such as Hollywood legends Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray, as well as Peter Lilienthal, Daniel Schmid, and Jean Eustache.


West Germany/France 1976/1977
Length: 126 min, 3439 m
Format: 35mm Eastmancolor; 1:1.66; Stereo
Language: German, English, French

4K Restoration 2014, 4K DCP

Festivals & Awards

1977 • German Film Critics Award
1978 • German Film Award in Gold (Best Director; Best Editor)
1978 • German Film Award in Silver (further full-length Feature Film)

Cast and crew

Production: Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH (Berlin), Wim Wenders Produktion (Munich), Les Films du Losange (Paris), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Cologne) Director: Wim Wenders Producer: Wim Wenders, Renée Gundelach Screenplay: Wim Wenders, based on the novel Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith Director of Photpgraphy: Robby Müller Editor: Peter Przygodda Sound: Martin Müller, Peter Kaiser Cast: Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain

Guest Appearences: Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Peter Lilienthal, Daniel Schmid, Jean Eustache, Sandy Whitelaw, Lou Castel Script: Gretl Zeilinger Music: Jürgen Knieper Assistant Camera: Martin Schäfer, Jacques Steyn, Edward Lachman Special Effects: Theo Nischwitz Assistant Editor: Barbara von Weitershausen, Ingrid Träutlein-Peer, Gisela Bock Sound Assistant: Jens-Uwe Laddey, Jochen Bärwald, Peter Kaiser, Marite Kavalianskas Re-recording Mixer: Max Galinsky, Milan Bor Light/Stage: Hans Dreher, Andreas Willim,Wolfgang Dell, Jean-Claude Lebras, Robert Morsch, Tassilo Peik, Hans Otto Herbst, Ekkehart Heinrich, Johan Holm, Hans Volkmann, Ernst Harinko, Viktor Sauermann Set Construction/Requisite: Luigi de Luca, Peter Baum, Eckehard Voggenreiter, Hans Sörgel, Georg Feder, Bernhard Frey Set Design: Heidi Lüdi, Toni Lüdi Wardrobe: Isolde Nist, Renate Zimmermann Make-up: Hannelore Uhrmacher, Evelyn Döhring La Louma: Jean-Marie Lavalou, Jean-Francois Casi, Marc Casi Title Design: Sickerts Songs: The Kinks Production Management: Michael Wiedemann, Pierre Cottrell Assistant Direktor: Fritz Müller-Scherz, Emmanuel Clot, Serge Brodskis Production Assistant: Harald Vogel Location Manager: Harald Kügler, Heinz Badewitz, Philippe Schwartz, Pat Kirck Line Producer: Renée Gundelach Editorial Office: Joachim von Mengershausen Production Accountant: Anna Povel, Claude Bertonazzi Driver: Axel Niendorf, Volker Finnern, Michael Zimmer, Pierre Edelmann, Herve Grandsart Press Support: Cinepromotion In Cooperation with: Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Cologne) Primary Distribution: Filmverlag der Autoren GmbH & Co KG (Munich) World Distribution: Argos Films S.A. (Neuilly sur Seine) Shooting: 18.10.1976 – 11.03.1977 in Hamburg, North Sea, Munich, Bavaria Studios Geiselgasteig, Paris, New York Premiere (FR): 26.05.1977, Cannes International Filmfestival; (DE): 24.06.1977, Berlin, Kurbel First Release (DE): 17.08.1980, ARD World Sales: HanWay Films

Blu-ray & DVD

DVD&BR – Restored version (USA)
The Road Trilogy Box, The Criterion Collection
Language/Sound: German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English
Image Format: 1,66:1


BluRay – Restored version (DE)
Die Frühen Jahre Box, Arthaus/Studiocanal
Language/Sound: German, German/English Original version (5.1 Dolby Digital)
Subtitles: German
Image Format: 1,66:1


Ripley’s Home Video
Language/Sound: German (Dolby Digital 1.0 & Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles: Italian
Image Format: 1,77:1


DVD – Restored version (ES)
A Contracorriente Films
Language/Sound: English, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish
Image Format: 1,66:1


BAC Films
Language/Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles: French
Image Format: 1,77:1


Axiom Films
Language/Sound: German/English (Stereo 2.0, optional 5.1)
Subtitles: English
Image Format: 1.78:1

Press Sheet (PDF)

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