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.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.