The American Friend (German: Der Amerikanische Freund) is a 1977 film by Wim Wenders, loosely adapted from the novel Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith. The film is of the neo-noir genre, and features Dennis Hopper as career criminal Tom Ripley and Bruno Ganz as Jonathan Zimmermann, a terminally ill picture framer whom Ripley coerces into becoming an assassin.
The source novel Ripley's Game (1974) was cinematically adapted a second time as Ripley's Game (2002).
In A Girl and a Gun: The Complete Guide to Film Noir, David N. Meyer says, "Though the plot may not make a whole lot of sense the first time around — and the thick European accents of a couple of the major actors doesn't help — The American Friend is worth the effort. Few movies from any era or genre offer such rich characters, realistic human relationships, gripping action sequences, or sly humor."  In Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir, Barry Gifford writes, "Of all the 'homage' films made since the 1940s and '50s meant to evoke noir, The American Friend succeeds more than most because of the spaces, the sputters, and sudden shifts of energy that allow the characters to achieve veracity."
The film was entered into the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. It currently holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film three stars (out of four), writing: "[Wenders] challenges us to admit that we watch (and read) thrillers as much for atmosphere as for plot. And then he gives us so much atmosphere we're almost swimming in it." Highsmith herself complimented the film's "stylishness". She initially disliked Hopper's Ripley but later changed her mind, feeling that he had perfectly captured the soul and essence of the character.
|Dennis Hopper||Tom Ripley|
|Bruno Ganz||Jonathan Zimmermann|
|Lisa Kreuzer||Marianne Zimmermann|
|Gérard Blain||Raoul Minot|
|Samuel Fuller||The American Mobster|
|David Blue||Allan Winter|