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Trivia / The American Friend

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  • Approval of God: Patricia Highsmith initially disliked the film because Ripley's character didn't match her intentions. Only after she saw the film at a regular screening did she admit that Wim Wenders had captured the essence of Ripley.
  • Creator Couple: Lisa Kreuzer (Marianne) was married to Wim Wenders when this film was filmed and released.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Dennis Hopper improvised much of his dialogue. He improvised Ripley's dialogue when he is speaking into the tape recorder, saying that "there is nothing to fear but fear itself," because this scene was being shot on December 7th, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
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  • Hostility on the Set: According to the DVD Commentary, Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz did not initially get along and got into a fistfight on the set. After a night of drinking, the two returned to the set with their differences settled.
  • Method Acting: Bruno Ganz worked in a frame shop for weeks to prepare for his role as a frame shop worker.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Wim Wenders was a fan of Patricia Highsmith and wanted to adapt one of her novels to film, especially The Tremor of Forgery or The Cry of the Owl. When he learned that the rights to these novels and Highsmith's other novels had been sold, he met with her and she offered him the unpublished manuscript of Ripley's Game, which was published in 1974. Wenders also uses elements of Ripley Under Ground, though he did not have the rights to do so.
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  • What Could Have Been: Wim Wenders wanted to cast John Cassavetes as Ripley, who declined and suggested Dennis Hopper for the part.
  • Working Title: Wim Wenders was not fond of the novel's title, Ripley's Game. The film was shot under the working title Framed. Another title considered was Rule Without Exception. Wenders finally settled on The American Friend due to the relationship in the film between Ripley and Jonathan.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The film was constantly being rewritten, on a daily basis.