For the lead role of Tom Ripley in Wim Wenders’s The American Friend, a melancholy neonoir that fused Wenders’s New German sensibility with classic Hollywood drama, the director needed an actor who could convey menace with complexity. Wenders had his eye on John Cassavetes for the role, hoping his emotional intelligence and filmmaker’s insight would provide another layer to the soul of Ripley. Cassavetes turned down the offer but recommended fellow actor-director Dennis Hopper, and Wenders soon came to realize that Hopper’s eccentric persona embodied the mysterious, ominous quality he was after. (Wenders went on to fill the rest of the film’s roster of crooks and gangsters with other legendary directors—the American titans Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray and the French New Wave hero Jean Eustache.) In the video below, Wenders discusses how Hopper’s idiosyncratic interpretation of Ripley brought the character to life.
Donald Richie Uncovers the Traces of a Lost Japan
In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.
A Palette That Sizzles On-Screen
Filmmaker Darnell Martin and writer Nelson George discuss how vividly Do the Right Thing captures the heat of a Brooklyn summer and the diverse skin tones of its cast of color.
A Genius of French Cinema Delivers a Career-Defining Performance
Raimu is at his subtle best in one of the most moving scenes in The Baker’s Wife, a moment in which the actor channels the collective despair of France’s working class.