The American Soldier [VHS] ~ Karl Scheydt (actor) Cover Art

The American Soldier [VHS]

Karl Scheydt (actor), Margarethe Von Trotta (actor) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder (director)

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder''s tribute to American gangster films is an exercise in pure pulp fantasy. Ricky (Karl Scheydt) is a German hit man who returns home after a stint in America and is hired by renegade police detectives to assassinate Berlin criminals they have been unable to nab. Ricky wistfully revisits his old neighborhood and attempts to reconcile with his estranged mother and brother--but on the job, this antihero is a hard-boiled, stone-cold killer. Complications set in as he falls for a call girl, unaware she''s actually his boss''s girl sent to keep tabs on him. Shot in sharp, high-contrast black and white, this self-consciously stylish crime thriller recalls American film noir and gangster films with its heavy shadows and pools of light. Fassbinder''s sleazy Berlin underworld is populated by denizens named after his favorite directors (Walsh, Fuller, Murnau), all dressed as if they just stepped out of a Humphrey Bogart detective movie. It''s a playful lark from a director who had yet to complete his first masterpiece, but Fassbinder''s developing style comes across in crisp images, terse dialogue, and a stunning, unexpected climax. Future director Margarethe von Trotta plays a suicidal chambermaid telling the story of an elderly German woman who marries a young Turkish man, a tale Fassbinder later transformed into Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. --Sean Axmaker

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