Run time: 80 mins
In Theaters: Friday 30th May 1975
Distributed by: Criterion Collection
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 2
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Producer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenwriter: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring: Karl Scheydt as Ricky, Elga Sorbas as Rosa von Praunheim, Jan George as Jan, Hark Bohm as Doc, Marius Aicher as Polizist, Margarethe von Trotta as Zimmermädchen, Ingrid Caven as Sängerin, Irm Hermann as Hure, Rainer Werner Fassbinder as Franz
Rainer Fassbinder's Soldier is one of his most straightforward works, but oddly it's one of his most cryptic as well. Right off the bat, Fassbinder introduces us to his black-and-white underground world of crime, women, gambling, and what-have-you. From a five-minute, nearly worldless, scene of a high-stakes poker game (complete with hardcore-pornographic playing cards) we are immersed in a noir-infused atmosphere.
And unfortunately, that's about it. Our hitman anti-hero visits his family, spends time with countless hookers, and busts quite a few caps, all shuffling through life as if he's working the assembly line. It all culminates in a truly stellar ending, a slow-motion shootout and slapfight between the hitman and the cops, a long, unbroken scene that lasts for close to 10 minutes.
Full of that old-timey gangster feel, The American Soldier is at once fascinating and endlessly repetitious. How many trysts need we witness? How many circuitous car rides will slow down the movie? (And this is a film that's only 80 minutes long!)
The American Soldier ends up a curious effort for Fassbinder which is a considerable departure from his characteristic style of deadbeat nobody stars trapped in meaningless lives. Here we have a truly bad-man star whose life is fascinating. He just lives it as if it were hollow. It's a disconnect that never really fits his oeuvre or the film. An interesting minor work from the Fassbinder film factory.
Aka Der Amerikanische Soldat.